A labor market mismatchOne out of four Korean young people is without a decent job. A study by the Samsung Economic Research Institute put the number of people in their late teens and 20s without a permanent paying job at triple the 8.3-percent official youth unemployment rate compiled by the government.
Despite improving unemployment data, jobs for high school and university graduates have failed to reappear.
Experts cite the gap between youthful ambitions and the jobs actually available on the market as the prime reason for high unemployment among the young.
Some corporations and industries are even suffering manpower shortages. Young people say jobs are hard to find, yet Korea’s small companies complain that they need 210,000 more workers than they currently have.
Small companies are not alone in their struggles with recruitment. Large companies are desperately searching for staff to fill their software departments.
Samsung Electronics needs about 30,000 people to run its software research facility, but it has only been able to find 18,000 at home and must scout the rest from overseas.
Top universities’ computer engineering and science departments cannot fill their classroom quotas because top-tier high school graduates avoid any studies that require hard work and passion.
A lack of social encouragement to study computer science is largely to be blamed. But a new mindset is necessary, because it is the software industry, rather than hardware, that can now drive future growth. The industry must make more effort to draw talent to the field.
Groups of 10 prodigies serve as the brain trusts of multinational technology companies such as Apple Inc.. Universities also must play their part producing the manpower the industry demands.
Sungkyunkwan University is a role model in this regard. It plans to open a software department next year and offer radical scholarship programs to entice high school talent.
The government must also contribute. It should benchmark China, which prioritizes scouting talents among overseas ethnic Chinese in science, technology and finance to contribute to the economic progress over the next 10 years.
Perks include various subsidies in housing, medical care and education as well as resort vacation packages, drawing more than 100,000 ethnic Chinese to come work for their mother country.
There must be something wrong if ethnic Koreans or other nationals cannot last more than a few years working here.