Gov’t to allow more migrant workers next year

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Gov’t to allow more migrant workers next year

The Korean government announced on Tuesday that it will allow 55,000 non-professional foreign workers into the country next year, up from 53,000 this year, while also overhauling its recruitment process for immigrants.

Of the 55,000 E-9 non-professional employment visas the government will allocate, 10,000 will be given to returning workers who receive satisfactory evaluations from their employers and pass high-level Korean-language proficiency tests.

The rest will be provided to workers who are new to Korea.

The government’s aim is to raise the volume of foreign workers to fill labor shortages and replace the approximately 9,500 non-professional workers scheduled to leave the country next year when their work visas expire.

At a foreign labor work force policy committee meeting on Tuesday afternoon, the government said it also wants to boost the efficiency of immigrant labor in Korea by distributing workers more effectively.

“As the foreign work force keeps increasing in Korea, foreign workers are closely associated with the local labor market,” said Choo Kyung-ho, minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination.

“The government will keep putting forth efforts to prevent the expansion of the foreign workforce from creating a negative influence on the Korean labor force.”

In the past, immigrant workers were split equally between industries, but the government said it will now determine how many foreign employees companies need on a case by case basis.

It is estimated that 42,400 workers will be allocated to the manufacturing industry while 6,000 will go to agriculture and livestock.

Around 2,300 immigrant workers will each go into fisheries and construction while the service industry will receive 100 workers.

In order to prevent a surplus or shortage of laborers, the official number of visas and their distribution in each industry will be confirmed after applications from employers are received next year.

At the same time, the government will focus on boosting the overall quality of the non-professional workforce.

It has created a point system for employers to evaluate each worker’s abilities, which will take into consideration labor skills, work experience and training or academic credentials.

Currently, the only standard used to assess a worker is a Korean-language proficiency test.

Non-professional migrant workers will also be expected to take extra tests that will be implemented starting next year.

Starting in the second half, employers will test employees in tasks relevant to their daily duties, particularly in sectors that require a full and clear understanding of the job, such as metalwork and machinery.

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

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