[EDITORIALS]Focus on quality of jobsThe female employment rate has risen to almost 50 percent. According to May employment statistics released by the National Statistics Office, 49.8 percent of women 15 years and over are working at least one hour a week.
Although the female employment rate is still lower than the average 55.8 percent of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries, it is still welcome news that female employment has gone up.
As our aged population grows at a fast rate, we have no choice but to solve short-term workforce gaps with women. Utilizing female work power is no longer an issue of women entering society or boosting individual self-achievement, but a task at the national level.
However, when we look into the details of female employment, it is difficult to rejoice with a content mind at the rise of mere employment rate figures.
Firstly, the employment rate of women in their 20s is 60 percent, but it drops drastically to 40 percent for women in their 30s. Many women leave the workplace because of marriage, pregnancy and childbirth, and once they leave work, it is difficult for them to return.
The figures also show that society still does not recognize the professionalism and experience of the female workforce.
On the other hand, female employment rates increase for women in their 50s and 60s. Most cases are where women need jobs to maintain their lifestyle. As the stagnant economy becomes long-term and the income foundation of households becomes unstable, women go back to work to contribute what little they can to the household income.
Most of these women find jobs in restaurants and lodgings as housekeepers or kitchen assistants, or do domestic handicrafts. Some are self-employed but only for the sake of making a living.
Even when looking at female employees as a whole, a third work in the service sector such as in retail and wholesale, restaurant, and accommodation businesses. The rate of temporary employment is higher among women than men. Although employment rates are higher, the quality of female employment is still very low.
We must focus on improving the quality of female employment rather than merely raising the rate. Only then can the satisfaction rate of employed women increase and can women’s employment be expanded in a stable manner.