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Mid-size Companies Crying Out for Workers

Posted January. 27, 2010 07:45,   


A textile company in Gyeongsan, North Gyeongsang Province, has two factories and a dormitory that can accommodate 150 people.

It built the dorm to attract people from other regions because of the difficulty in finding employees. Still, around 100 rooms remain empty.

“We cannot even dream of hiring experienced workers,” the company’s owner said. “Even when I hire inexperienced workers, they just quit in two or three months. We cannot help but leave those rooms empty.”

Small and even medium-size companies are having difficulty finding and keeping employees. The textile company is rather big in size with 350 employees and 100 billion won (85.9 million U.S. dollars) in annual sales, but its location in the provinces makes it unattractive to jobseekers.

In addition, it is more difficult for mid-size companies to find staff because of paltry employment assistance from the government.

As early as next month, the government plans to release measures to address such difficulties by mid-size companies. It is considering allowing foreign workers to work for mid-size as well as smaller companies and develop an industrial-academic cluster putting mid-size companies and think tanks in one place.

○ Discrimination in hiring

The government supports small companies through human resource assistance. As the end of 2008, 2.46 trillion won (2.12 billion dollars) of state funds were spent on 68 policies.

The policies included giving priority to areas full of small companies in building national and public daycare centers; offering high school tuition for the children of employees of small companies; and allowing more foreign workers at small companies.

Mid-size companies do not get these benefits, however. They complain over being unable to hire inexperienced foreign workers who seem limited to doing “3D” jobs (dirty, difficult and dangerous) by law.

Only small companies can hire foreign workers, including manufacturers with fewer than 300 full-time workers or eight billion won (6.87 million dollars) in capital.

Mid-size businesses need a variety of workers but no system shows their workforce demands in detail.

○ Hiring experienced foreign workers

Measures for fostering small and mid-size businesses to be announced next month are expected to focus on hiring employees by linking academia with mid-size companies.

A high-ranking government official said, “We plan to create an industrial-academic cluster and produce an experienced and skilled workforce through on-the-job training from high schools and universities. A system that mandates researchers at state-sponsored think tanks to work at mid-size companies over a certain period of time will be included as well.”

The Korea Small Business Institute conducted a study on developing mid-size companies for the government. The think tank proposed the adoption of a foreign experts system, under which mid-size companies can hire foreign experts and issue recommendation letters to help foreign workers get work visas.

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