Park pushes for more stable part-time jobs
On top of what the government calls “decent” part-time opportunities, it looks to expand diverse, nontraditional forms of employment, including job-sharing, flextime and staggered work hours, in a bid to bring female workers and younger job seekers into the job market.
In an effort to lead the drive, the government plans to offer part-time positions for some of those applying to be public servants next year.
The scheme is part of the Park administration’s grand initiative aimed at creating 2.38 million new jobs, including 930,000 part-time positions, to boost the employment rate to 70 percent by 2017. The government plans to funnel 6 trillion won ($5.3 billion) to the comprehensive scheme and revise 34 relevant bills, according to the statement issued by the government bodies, including the Ministry of Employment and Labor, Ministry of Strategy and Finance, and Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.
The statement says the part-time positions, which often require four to six hours at a time, will appeal to married women with kids.
Korea’s employment rate in April stood at 59.8, according to the latest available data, and the unemployment rate in the same month was 3.2 percent, according to Statistics Korea.
The employment rate is the proportion of all working-age people between 15 and 64 who have jobs, while the unemployment rate is the percentage of the unemployed among those actively looking for jobs.
Korea’s figure may appear sound compared to recession-hit European countries like Spain, whose unemployment rate often hovers above 20 percent, but the government considers job creation as a top priority in the face of slowing economy.
More and more job opportunities are lost overseas as more large conglomerates build new factories and offices in countries with cheap labor.
President Park often cited long-working hours as one reason that married women stay away from the job market.
“The newly created jobs will be different from temporary positions,” said Park during a meeting Monday.
“We are just giving them broader leeway in setting their own work schedules, and the positions offer the same job security as full-time ones,” she said,
Park stressed that countries with higher employment rates tend to have more part-time positions available.
“Thirty-seven percent of employment in the Netherlands comes from part-time positions and Australia has 25 percent and German 22 percent. All three countries maintain over 70 percent employment rate,” she said.
She also said the seats left temporarily vacant due to maternity leave can provide quality part-time job opportunities for job hunters. The leading policy makers echoed Park’s support for flexible work hours.
Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok emphasized the importance of women participating in the government’s goal of reaching the target employment rate in a meeting with Bank of Korea Gov. Kim Choong-soo earlier yesterday.
The political heavyweights met for the first time since Hyun’s inauguration as the country’s finance minister.
“It is difficult to lift the employment rate without women’s participation,” Kim said. “But structural problems should be improved first, which means short-term measures aren’t enough.”
“Countries like the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden are highly interested in developing jobs based on flexible working hours,” Hyun said.
The finance minister also mentioned a recent trend in global economic policies that shift from growth-focused to employment-focused measures.
“The Park government’s job-focused economic policy received credit from the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development at its ministerial meeting last week,” Hyun said.
By Park Eun-jee, Song Su-hyun [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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