Hiring high school graduates

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Hiring high school graduates

One of the most exciting phrases for young people these days is probably “I got a job!” And in a world crammed with jobless youth, there is probably nothing better than having a job at a decent company. In fact, the experience of the so-called 88 Generation - the multitudes of young people struggling with part-time jobs and salaries of 880,000 won ($812) a month - seems to represent the new normal.

The current conviction that a student must go to college despite the rapid rise in college tuition has originated from the harsh reality that high school graduates will have a hard time finding jobs. It is only natural that the percentage of high school graduates who go on to college - a whopping 80 percent - is among the highest in the world.

But there may be a solution. As seen in an exemplary case in the JoongAng Ilbo last week, the public and private sector are striving to hire as many high school graduates as possible.

GS Retail, which runs the GS Supermarket and GS25 convenience stores, hired 193 high school graduates last year, which is 32 more than the number of recruits with four-year college degrees. Twelve percent of GS employees who are above the managerial level are also high school graduates and one of them was even promoted to an executive position.

The definitive reason for GS Retail’s move is that high school graduates demonstrate an unrivaled loyalty to their company and a passion for their work as compared to college graduates. It is natural that high school graduates would try to work much harder than university graduates, given that college graduates find it increasingly difficult to get a job even after paying as much as 10 million won a year in tuition. Yet most companies are still reluctant to hire high school graduates because the companies are still bound by the idea that new recruits should at least have a college diploma.

Another report that created a stir was the story of a high school graduate who began his career as an assistant clerk at a quarantine station in Gangwon and later became the head of a bureau within the central government. The protagonist of this dramatic story is a 54-year-old who took the helm of a bureau that oversees construction of high-tech medical compounds.

Similarly, companies in the private sector should not discriminate against high school graduates. Our work culture cannot change overnight. But we can join the ranks of genuinely advanced countries only when the success of high school graduates is no longer news.
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