The complacent unemployedThe NEET group of young people has grown to 1.13 million. NEET is an acronym for the government classification “Not currently engaged in Employment, Education or Training.”
Korea’s group of NEET youngsters is more than three times larger than official statistics of 328,000 jobless youth.
According to a report of the Federation of Korean Industries, Korean NEETs are defined as 15- to 29-year-old youngsters who have been jobless for a long time but are not actively seeking employment. Official unemployment statistics refer to those who are seeking jobs but have failed to find them. Although the unemployed want to find jobs, NEETs do not even consider employment a possibility.
Therefore, they have become a more serious problem for not only households but also society and the economy.
As of May, Korea’s youth unemployment rate was 7.6 percent, lower than the average 9 percent for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member nations. Yet, the youth employment rate was 40 percent, far lower than the OECD average of 54 percent.
The difference between youth unemployment and employment rates indicates that Korea has a large number of NEETs who are neither seeking jobs nor labeled as unemployed in official statistics.
It is time for the government to pay attention to NEETs when creating employment policies, rather than basing programs on the official youth unemployment rate.
Whether NEET youngsters have given up on seeking jobs voluntarily or not, a society with a large number of jobless youth can never be healthy.
The Federation of Korean Industries said NEETs have become so numerous in Korea because of the wide disparity between regular and non-regular workers.
Because non-regular workers receive low wages and their job stability is uncertain, more and more youngsters believe that it is better to be jobless and stay home than take jobs that don’t offer regular employment status.
In order to resolve the problem, the excessive protections for regular workers should be eased and the labor market’s flexibility should be increased.
Non-regular workers should no longer face discrimination or be viewed as having less career potential.
Youngsters should also change their ways of thinking. Instead of wasting valuable time with unreasonably high hopes, they should face reality, lower their expectations and keep looking for work.