[Outlook]Employ locallyThe slogan that goes, “Think globally, act locally,” puts into simple words the fact that one should not just think from a broader perspective in the era of globalization, but find concrete solutions.
This approach is needed for youth unemployment, a serious issue in our society. No matter how hard the government may try to work on the issue, efforts will be in vain if the jobs created don’t have local demand.
It will be a good idea to form local councils consisting of labor, the private sector and the government. Training systems based on local area demand and networks among small and midsized companies will make it easier for youths to find employment and for companies to find manpower for manufacturing departments.
Unemployed youths who are high school graduates make up two-thirds of all youth unemployment. Job training for people in their late teens is not that complicated. It is often sufficient if they take a three-month course at the main businesses in their local areas.
Some 40 percent of job-seeking high school graduates want to get a spot on a manufacturing line. But they have been unable find a job because job training is hard to come by.
At the same time, small and midsized companies in their areas also have difficulties finding the manpower that they need.
The job training center of the Ministry of Labor, for instance, doesn’t satisfy local demand. First of all, due to its location, it can’t reach every local area.
Most courses that the center offers take one or two years. This is not suitable for high school graduates who want to get jobs and make money as soon as possible. Even if they take courses there, they want to take courses related to popular jobs. Then, when the courses are over, they get jobs in conglomerates, not small and midsized companies in their hometowns.
Thus, the issue of youth unemployment goes unresolved and smaller enterprises still have problems hiring people.
The first step to solving this problem would be to form local councils led by the head of the local municipality. Such community leaders are eager to revive their local economies and are sensitive to employment issues. Therefore, they are perfectly suited to being the heads of employment councils.
Each central government ministry allocates budgets to local governments, but these budgets can be collected to create a budget for councils. The Ministry of Knowledge Economy’s council for reforms in local areas, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology’s council for job training and the Ministry of Labor’s council for local employment get funding from the central government.
Their budgets total around 500 billion won ($500 million) yearly, 0.2 percent of the entire state budget. If the money is collected and allocated to local job councils it will be used more efficiently.
However, local government heads and local job councils shouldn’t try to do it all on their own. Companies in local areas must take part in the councils to offer job training that is designed for specific jobs and to make it easier for youths to find employment.
Companies or private organizations in local areas can apply for budgets and their applications can be evaluated before the budgets are provided.
In this way, companies can take an active role in offering job training courses and as a result, people can find jobs at the companies.
This method proved successful in Ireland. In the 1980s, the country was introduced as the poorest country in Europe on the cover of the U.K. weekly The Economist.
But Ireland made full use of local councils, and 10 years later it was called a rising star in Europe on the cover of the same magazine.
A local council in Ireland renovated an old building. It now accommodates a fire station on the first and second floors, a child care center on the third and fourth and offices of venture capital companies on the sixth to the eighth, free of charge. The local council offers short-term job training and job search servics for housewives and unemployed youths, which has proved to be a huge success.
As seen in this case, local government units should take a leading role in reviving local economies and creating jobs in those areas.
*Training systems based on local area demand will make it easier for youths to find employment.
by Jeong In-soo
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