The young need jobs

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The young need jobs

Choi Kyung-hwan, deputy prime minister for the economy and finance minister, said the government will do its best to raise the employment rates of our young generation through fiscal stimuli.

In a press briefing Monday, he warned that the extension of the retirement age to 60 from next year is pushing our youth into an abysmal job crisis. The Park Geun-hye administration plans to enforce a mandatory wage peak system starting with the public sector to create 3,000 new jobs in 2016. The government also intends to expand fiscal assistance for companies that hire an increasing number of youths.

Given the current situation, however, our youths will most likely face a catastrophe of unemployment soon because unions, companies and the government recently failed to reach a consensus on the introduction of a wage peak system and a revamp of labor laws for the private sector - steps to prepare for the extension of the retirement age.

But it is unclear how many jobs the government can create for our young generation through the fiscal stimulus. First of all, unless the wage peak system is extended to the private sector, the effect of the stimuli will be limited, as seen in the scorecard of the government-led job creation for our youth. The Board of Audit and Inspection has announced that the reemployment rate of those who participated in government-sponsored projects for youth employment stood at only 15 percent. A government campaign to offer opportunities for job training overseas also came under attack as our young generation increasingly chooses it for the purpose of building their credentials for entering domestic companies, not foreign businesses.

The government must find effective ways to raise the efficacy of its assistance programs rather than blindly multiply the 1.4 trillion won ($1.27 billion) budget earmarked for youth employment. Also, the government must aggressively push forward other measures aimed at boosting youth employment despite the breakdown of the tripartite negotiations on labor reform.

Deputy Prime Minister Choi said our young generation does not seem to be speaking up on the disadvantages they have to suffer in return for the extension of Korea’s retirement age. His remarks deserve harsh criticism from our youth. Did the government ever try listening to them in the first place? Creating jobs for them is not a mere bargain with unions and companies. It is a national priority the government must take seriously. Without a viable future for our youth, our country has no future.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 13, Page 30

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