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No High School Graduates Are Passing Current Employment Exams

No High School Graduates Are Passing Current Employment Exams

Posted July. 08, 2005 05:19,   


No Consideration for Educational Background is “Wishful Thinking”-

In his presidential election campaign, President Roh pledged to abolish the five discriminations against women, non-regular workers, people with less prominent educational backgrounds, disabled people, and foreign workers. Through the Presidential National Human Rights Commission of Korea, the current administration has tried to abolish the public company employment system that weighs the educational backgrounds of job applicants in recruitment.

Nevertheless, the employment system that claims not to consider educational background is nothing but wishful thinking for high school graduates or those with an educational background below a high school education. It is true that high school graduates are able to apply for jobs in public companies, but it does not mean they will eventually land jobs there.

Korea Western Power Co. Ltd. that started out not weighing educational backgrounds starting this year, received a total of 4,100 job applications. Among them, 95 applicants had educational backgrounds below a high school education, and not one among them was employed.

The Korea Electric Power Corporation and the Korea Highway Corporation received six job applications with no university diplomas and 10, respectively, and no one got jobs. Among applicants to the Korea Resources Corporation and the Korea Airports Corporation, there was not a single one with an educational background below a high school education. The Korea Airports Corporation said, “It seems that high school graduates did not apply for jobs because they think they stand no chance to be employed.”

Why Not Employ Them?-

Public companies explained that high school graduates do not have sufficient job capabilities. An official of a public company said, “In the tight job market, people with “prominent” educational backgrounds apply for open employment at public companies. When not only those with master’s degrees or doctor’s degrees, but also licensed tax accountants and those with MBAs apply for jobs, it is natural that high school graduates stand little chance to land jobs.

Incheon International Airport Corporation reported a ratio of successful applicants to total applicants of 309:1, posting the fiercest competition, since 8,961 applied for 29 posts. An official of the corporation said, “Some high school graduates passed the paper screening, but they failed to pass the written test.”

The employment procedures of most public companies are conducted in the form of paper screenings, written test, and interviews in that order. In the paper screening process, at least five times or as many as 60 times the number of recruits are singled out and they are allowed to take the written test. Criteria for the screening test vary from company to company. To prove their English proficiency, applicants should have TOEIC score of at least 700, but applicants with a score of 700-plus and below 800 stand no chance to pass the test.

Even those who pass the first paper screening with an educational background below a high school education can fail to pass the difficult written test and the interview. An official in the personnel management of a public company said, “In a word, it is impossible for high school graduates to land a job.”

There Are Side Effects-

Lee Byung-hoon, a professor of sociology at Chung-Ang University, said, “The significance of an employment system that does not consider applicants’ educational background is that any job seekers are allowed to apply for any jobs.”

However, some pointed out that the system that employs people irrespective of educational background is being used as a tool to increase the competition rate for jobs or as a “publicity stunt” to show the government’s good intentions. Even some public companies said the system does not work as intended and makes no difference.

The Incheon International Airport Corporation, which started last year to employ people irrespective of their educational background, posted a job competition rate of 309:1 this year up from 93:1 last year. The Korea National Housing Corporation witnessed its job competition rate almost double to 28:1 from 15:1 last year.

There are some applicants who suffered disadvantages.

Until last year, Korea Midland Power Co. hired two-year college graduates and four-year university graduates with different examinations. This year the company conducted its employment test with no distinction between them. As a result, all of 62 of its successful applicants were four-year university graduates. It is fair to say that the artificial system that does not weigh educational background put two-year college graduates at a disadvantage.

Sang-Soo Kim Hyo-Lim Son ssoo@donga.com aryssong@donga.com