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1 Mln Koreans Aged 15-34 Stay Economically Idle

Posted October. 15, 2008 08:48,   


They neither attend school nor work. They are not seeking jobs. They have given up finding jobs.

This describes one million Koreans between the ages of 15 and 34.

This group has completely given up finding work, studying or getting vocational training. In this respect, they differ from the young unemployed.

The group is further divided into two subcategories: those who have done nothing for the past week, and those idle because of a pending marriage, job search, preparation for further education or military service, or other reasons.

Based on statistics on those not economically active compiled by the National Statistical Office, the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training studied this idle group, or “NEET (not in education, employment or training),” between 2003 and last year.

In a report exclusively obtained by The Dong-A Ilbo, NEETs numbered 835,151 in 2003 and rose to 951,851 last year.

The number of the temporarily unemployed slid from 486,039 to 406,025 over the same period, while that of the idle rose from 290,256 to 339,887, showing more people gave up on finding jobs.

The demographic group of people aged 15-34 also dwindled from 14,759,193 to 13,788,381 over the four-year period.

Unlike those in their late 30s to 50s, the young generation loses little by doing nothing, earning little even if they work. Thus, they usually take more time to find a job than other demographic groups do. In Korea, a jobseeker has to pass standardized written tests to work for a state-run company or agency, and lots of young folks are preparing for the exams.

In addition, the young group commits errors in finding appropriate jobs due to lack of job-related information and understanding.

In 2005, the state-run Korea Employment Information Service examined 3.8 million newly employed young people and checked how long they stayed at their jobs. More than half, or 53.1 percent, left their jobs within a year. Only 7.8 percent of people aged 15-29 stayed with the same employer for three years or more.

According to the Education, Science and Technology Ministry’s 2008 report on basic education statistics, 83.8 percent of high school graduates advanced to college.

Thus a college education is a preparatory stage for finding a job later, blurring the border between education and the labor market. More young Koreans are working odd jobs to make money.

Chae Chang-gyun, a senior researcher at the Korea Development Institute, said, “A third of the NEET group remains unemployed after a year. The group is less likely to find jobs than young Koreans who have not fallen into the category, and is more likely to find lower-paying jobs.”