Hyundai’s hiring is right modelHyundai Motor will hire workers for its Ulsan production lines for the first time in seven years. The competition rate was 100 to one for the 70 positions. The jobs are open to those with two-year vocational college degrees or below. In the past, four-year university graduates have been sacked for falsifying their qualifications. Hyundai Motor has a unique labor policy that gives priority to offspring of permanent workers. But its rarely used, as most offspring of long-term permanent workers have graduated from four-year universities, thanks to another generous corporate policy that pays for tuition for up to three offspring.
It is no surprise that Hyundai Motor’s production line jobs are highly competitive. The workers enjoy some of the world’s best benefits. New recruits earn 28 million won a year ($25,800), but when various allowances and perks are included, the figure goes up to 40 million won. They earn more than most college graduates. Housing is even provided to employees without homes. Turnover is low; employees work 18 years on average. Their jobs are more or less guaranteed for life.
The enormous interest in Hyundai’s new posts underscores how our society desperately thirsts for decent work. Since the financial crisis in the late 1990s, large companies have been busy honing efficiency in productivity by sending capital investment overseas for cheaper labor. As a result, jobs have become scarcer at home. As large exporters created wealth for their shareholders, common Koreans have become poorer. The wealth gap in Korea remains massive. Politicians take advantage with tempting populist campaigns but offer few long term solutions.
Large companies must play a bigger role. They must provide more quality jobs. The “trickle-down effect” starts with them. This year is a turning point for Korea Inc. The top 10 business groups pledged record investments of 100 trillion won and increased job opportunities. Many have turned inward due to higher labor costs in China and Southeast Asia. The FTA with the European Union, followed by a similar pact with the United States, could translate into greater opportunities. We hope the hiring at Hyundai Motor is just the beginning. If good jobs are provided for the less educated, Korea’s expensive university tuition would be less of a dilemma.
Furthermore, a healthy economy with plentiful jobs leaves less of a chance for populist economic policies to take root. Economics should be left up to economic players.