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‘Job Sharing’ Baloney

Posted April. 22, 2010 05:52,   


The first of the top 10 news in last year’s job market as ranked by the job portal site Incruit was job sharing, then next came youth internship. Job sharing is a core project of President Lee Myung-bak and his economy-related ministers. The president emphasized “job sharing for sharing the pain” whenever he chaired the emergency economic review meeting in January and February last year. The government ordered state-run companies and financial institutions to slash the pay of entry-level staff recruited from among college graduates, and to hire additional staff with the remaining budget. A little more than a year later, the job sharing program has proven to be nothing but a bluff or sound bite.

The Dong-A Ilbo surveyed 246 state and public agencies jointly with ruling Grand National party lawmaker Kim Sung-shik, and made an unexpected discovery. The pay of entry-level staff was cut four to 26 percent, but only 39 percent, or 95 companies and agencies, hired a combined 1,906 rookie staff among college graduates. A total of 151, or 61 percent of such companies and agencies, slashed the pay of entry-level staff but hired no additional workers. Newcomers were forced to share the burden, but the remaining budget was not spent on hiring additional staff, but used for business projects and other purposes instead. State-run companies and the government effectively colluded to cheat jobseekers.

College graduates distrusted the job sharing program from the beginning, and put up posts on Web sites saying things like, “Will this stop-gap measure work?” and “This will only increase the number of interns.” Such negative predictions proved to be accurate. After the president suggested youth internships as a solution to alleviate youth unemployment, both state-run and private companies raced to hire interns. A total of 942 listed companies cut new hires six percent last year from the previous year, but 211 companies increased intern employment 191 percent. Companies plan to hire slightly more interns this year than last year. With funds raised through a pay cut for entry-level staff hired from among college graduates, employers have effectively generated temporary jobs en masse.

The Strategy and Finance Ministry last year predicted 297 state-run companies would be able to create about 1,000 jobs, including interns, by cutting the pay of entry-level staff. The Public Administration and Security Ministry also announced job sharing programs in provincial and local governments estimated to generate 34,000 jobs. They accordingly prompted the public to have high expectations that such programs will spawn lots of quality jobs. Strategy and Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun said last year, “Let’s develop the job sharing campaign as a call of this era that our society must cultivate.” Yoon must now step forward and explain why the campaign has failed miserably.

Editorial Writer Hong Kwon-hee (konihong@donga.com)