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[Editorial] Close Cooperation Is Key to Job Creation

Posted December. 16, 2008 05:41,   


The number of unemployed and underemployed was 3.17 million last month, or 12 percent of the Korean population. The Lee Myung-bak administration initially promised to create 600,000 jobs this year but had to almost halve its target to 350,000 and cut it further to 200,000. Nevertheless, the government has failed to achieve its stated goal. Making matters worse, companies have begun restructuring and announced cuts in hiring in the wake of the U.S.-led financial crisis. Accordingly, the job market will be in its worst shape next year. An unemployment crisis can be prevented only when the government, employees and job applicants make concerted efforts and cooperate closely.

Over the past decade since the currency crisis of 1997, large Korean corporations have engaged in “jobless growth.” On the other hand, small and medium-size enterprises have created almost 2.5 million jobs over the period. Worryingly, however, bad economic conditions first affect jobs at smaller companies. To help such companies survive, large corporations need to cut benefits for union members and try to thrive together with smaller companies. If workers at large corporations are given excessive benefits and salaries, that will force smaller companies to cut costs and endure more hardship.

For their part, companies should open their financial statements to workers and encourage them to join forces to overcome economic difficulties. If a chicken dies, no one can get the eggs. It is not right to fight for the eggs when the chicken is about to die. The people should unite to help the chicken survive.

Job applicants should lower their expectations. Still, many smaller companies are having trouble finding workers. Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Chairman Park Yong-sung is encouraging jobseekers to consider succeeding at smaller companies instead of looking toward large corporations, saying, “A chicken head is better than a cow tail.”

State projects to build infrastructure will also play a key role in creating jobs. The proposed four-river cleanup project has come under harsh criticism. As history shows, however, such a large-scale project run by the government can help boost the economy and create more jobs. To create decent jobs, service industries such as education, medical service, tourism and distribution should be nurtured. In Denmark, NGOs account for 15 percent of employment since Danes donate a great deal of money. Taking a cue from Denmark, Korea needs to encourage its people to donate more and encourage NGOs to strengthen their transparency and reliability. Then the Korean government should support sectors that can create jobs when executing next year’s budget.