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Employment minister and businesses fail to align  

Posted June. 30, 2021 07:27,   

Updated June. 30, 2021 07:27


The South Korean government asked the economic circles to expand regular public recruitment. “Young job seekers without working experiences are having difficulties in landing a job due to reduced public recruitment,” said Minister of Employment and Labor An Kyung-duk at a meeting with Chief Hiring Officers of 30 conglomerates on Monday. The business sector counter-argued that creating an environment to increase employment should precede. It means that the employment market is inflexible and recent policies are posing more difficulties on business operation. As the government and economic circles cannot align on this issue, the youth who have not scored a job are driven into long-term unemployment.  

Samsung is the only one among five largest groups that has not forgone public recruitment while most of the conglomerates abolished it. Public recruitment accounts for just 39 percent in hiring of 500 companies. It is because companies increased on-demand and career staff recruitment due to elevated uncertainties caused by the pandemic. “It is important to advance labor-management relations and increase flexibility of the labor market to create jobs,” said Son Gyeong-sik, chairman of the Korea Enterprises Federation. It means that large-scale employment would be difficult even after the economy recovers if the structural issue of the employment market is not resolved.  

In Korea, firing an employee is almost impossible and the seniority rule hinders performance assessment or hiring talents. The labor union of Hyundai Motor Company demands extending retirement age that is currently 64. Reshuffling staff based on conditions of business operation is not easy either. “It is understandable that companies are reducing large-scale recruitment as they have to pay billions of won per staff member until retirement,” said an attendee of the meeting.  

Some point out that there are not enough talents to hire. In a survey of 487 companies conducted by online job site “Saramin,” 68.7 percent responded that they were not able to hire as many staff as planned because there were not enough competent candidates. Labor shortage was severe in the information technology sector. But the university quota for information technology including computer science is still restricted by the 40-year-old Seoul Metropolitan Area Readjustment Planning Act.  

The meeting was arranged by the government to listen to difficulties that businesses are facing. The business sector asked the government to complement the 52-hour workweek policy, the Act on the Punishment of Serious Industrial, and Social Disaster and revised labor union laws. But the Labor Ministry has reportedly balked at it. It would have been a hard pill to swallow for companies as the ministry only demanded to increase hiring while turning a blind eye to the purpose of the meeting. It is illogical to demand more hiring while making it harder to recruit new staff with anti-business regulations. The government should look into the stiff employment structure while businesses increase recruitment of young staff to secure talents for the future.