Kotra helps the young find good jobs abroad

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Kotra helps the young find good jobs abroad


As part of its goal to reach a 70 percent employment-to-population rate, the government is trying to send talented Korean youngsters abroad for desirable jobs.

The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency has brought as many as 158 foreign businesses to Seoul to introduce them to young job seekers at a two-day job fair dubbed “Kotra Global Start-up and Career Vision” that runs today through tomorrow at COEX in southern Seoul.

Last year, 118 companies participated in the event and the number increased in its second year, owing to stronger government support and a will to address the youth unemployment issue.

The 2013 fair was quite successful, according to Kotra. It helped find jobs for 56 young job seekers. Ten young people found jobs in Indonesia through one of three “K-Move Centers” set up by Kotra. Two participants became entrepreneurs in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

This year, the state-run agency wants to help more than 100 people find jobs.

Of the participating companies, 56 are owned by Korean expatriates and 70 are purely foreign.

“Last year, most of the recruiters were foreign-based, small and midsize companies run by overseas Koreans, but the number of transnational and foreign companies shot up this year,” said a Kotra official. “Companies owned by overseas Koreans shrank this year from 76 last year, whereas those of foreign companies almost tripled.”

Fifty-one Asian companies, including Singapore Marriott Hotel and Chinese automaker Geely, are joining this year’s fair.

Twenty eight come from the United States, including ZionTech Solutions, an American security solutions company, and Rhee Brothers, the largest Asian grocery retail chain in the United States.

Twenty-five Japanese companies are taking part including Dentsu, the largest advertising agency in Japan, and Marubeni, one of the country’s largest trading companies. Japan is the largest overseas job market for Koreans.

“We had a follow-up conversation after last year’s job fair with Dentsu, one of the participants,” the Kotra official said. “The company’s recruitment department said demand for Korean talent keeps rising in Japan due to their creativity and initiative. Such a demand seems to overcome the tense diplomatic relationship.”

Twenty-one European transnational distribution companies like Geodis, Panalpina, Mazars and Dabai are participating.

Universities and government agencies from the Middle East will also reach out for Korean talent. From Saudi Arabia, King Saud University and Al-Yamamah University are looking for professors. The Saudi Arabian Public Health Ministry and Qatar’s state-run oil company are looking for professionals.

“It is true that the K-Move Centers last year assisted with low-skilled jobs in the service sector, including restaurant waiting and cleaning,” said the Kotra official. “Now, it is a different story, because we’re screening recruiters more strictly. I can confidently say that the overall job quality will rise.”

The official added that even if applicants go to Southeast Asian or African countries, which many of them try to avoid, they will be able to begin their careers in managerial positions at local companies there or Korean conglomerates’ branches, rather than starting off in low-skilled jobs.

Success of the relatively new program can be partly attributed to the changing attitude of young Koreans. Some prefer to work for foreign employers rather than local ones.

According to a recent survey by Saramin, an online recruiting web portal, more than 60 percent of 1,056 college students and job seekers who recently graduated said that they would like to get a job outside of Korea.

About 80 percent of young job seekers who had some experience living abroad answered that they would love to work abroad, while about half of those with no foreign experience said the same.

Most of them cited reasons such as advanced foreign technologies, high-quality employee welfare and working environments, and difficulties getting jobs in the local market.

Kotra assists the operation of three K-Move Centers outside the country, an employment policy planned and pushed by the former Lee Myung-bak administration. The first three centers opened last year to send Korean workers overseas.

Last month, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said it will establish four more centers by the end of the year.

“Kotra regards fostering talents and trading them with other countries as a next-generation growth engine for the national economy,” a Kotra official said. “If trade of manufactured goods and services has dominated our economy, the exchange of workforces will do so in the future.”

BY KIM JI-YOON [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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