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Major companies hiring less talents

Sept 22,2016
Nearly half the conglomerates in the nation will close their doors to jobseekers this year as economic woes at home and abroad remain unsettled.

In fact, 48.6 percent of Korea’s top 500 companies said they will hire fewer employees than last year, according to a survey by the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), one of nation’s leading business lobbying groups.

Considering 35.8 percent of those surveyed answered the same last year, the hiring pool is rapidly getting shallower. Those who said they will be hiring more than last year was slightly over 11 percent, while 40 percent said they will maintain last year’s level.

Companies cited the sluggish economy as the biggest reason for hiring fewer employees.

“Diverse factors, including potential interest hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the slowing Chinese economy and restructuring of the nation’s shipping and shipbuilding sector have hit global and domestic economies,” said Song Won-geun, head of FKI’s economic research division. “The employment market is expected to be tough.”

Severely hit this year is the shipping and shipbuilding sector, where a series of restructuring efforts have left many employees out of work. Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has let go around 2,000 employees this year, while Samsung Heavy Industries laid off 1,400, all of whom were by voluntary retirement.

“Obviously we don’t have much room to hire new people,” said a spokesperson from Hyundai Merchant Marine. “There can be some hires for necessary positions but we don’t have official hiring plans for the second half right now.”

Hanjin Shipping will not be hiring, either, though Hanjin Group’s air carrier arm, Korean Air, will be hiring around the same number as last year, according to the company.

“The hiring volume will be reduced but only a little, with little less than 200 open positions,” a company spokesperson said.

Among shipbuilders, HHI will be the only one to hire even a small number of jobseekers. In the first half of the year, it hired around 500 people.

“We won’t be holding massive hiring promotions and tests like other conglomerates but will hire a number of people to fill necessary positions by each affiliate,” an HHI spokesperson said. “The number may round up to roughly 100 people.”

The shipbuilder used to hire around 700 entry level workers and 300 experienced workers a year, but this year the total could be cut by nearly half. Samsung Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) won’t be hiring at all. DSME, currently under investigation, was planning to hire at least around 20 people in the first half but failed to do so as the company’s situation deteriorated.

The steelmaking industry hasn’t fared well, either, due to global oversupply. The nation’s largest steelmaker, Posco, is reducing recruitment, though it has not yet announced by how much. The company has been following its own restructuring plans, which has involved shedding some of its subsidiaries.

Still, there are a few companies that will be hiring more, banking on future growth.

SK Group is increasing its hiring from 8,000 to 8,400 overall through its affiliates. Its recruitment runs until Friday, and to give chances to a broader range of people and assess actual duty-related skills, it decided not to request photos, foreign language test results or IT-related certificates on resumes.

Hyosung, the chemicals and industrial materials maker, started recruitment from the beginning of September. Its recruitment ends Friday and it plans to hire over 500 employees, which is nearly twice the average annual positions it used to open up.

“We have good performance outlooks this year and our expansion in overseas businesses called for more talents,” a company spokesperson said. The company is looking to surpass 1 trillion won ($897 billion) in operating profits for the first time this year. Last year, Hyosung recorded 950.2 billion won in profits. As the company aims to strengthen its overseas businesses, newcomers with skills in languages such as English, Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish are preferred.

Samsung Group and Hyundai Motor Group said their numbers of new employees will be similar to last year’s. While Samsung declined to disclose the exact amount of its hiring pool, Hyundai Motor is expected to take on about 6,000 employees.

The nation’s small- and midsized enterprises (SMEs) are pessimistic about expanding for the latter half, as well. According to a survey by the job employment portal JobKorea, of 416 SMEs with less than 300 employees, 50.6 percent said they will hire less compared to last year. Those with plans to expand their number of new employees were just 10 percent.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]



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