With few jobs at home, more youth look overseas

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With few jobs at home, more youth look overseas


1. Han Ji-yeon (Doosan Cipta, Indonesia) “There are plenty of job support programs - get their help.” 2. Jang Hye-soo (Dalian TV announcer, China) “Now I’ve got Chinese fans after anchoring programs that introduce Korea.” 3. Shim Gil-sub (Shanghai Weina osmetics, China) “Some question why men work in cosmetics, but I’m excited to work in China, a huge market.” 4. Lee Na-kyung (Rakuten, Japan) “Employers seek someone with high potential rather than an academic pedigree.” 5. Song Yoon-beom (IHI Corporation, Japan) “Foreign employers like Koreans’ strong will and bravery.” 6. Heo Mi-na (KVH, Japan) “I got a job at a telecom company although I majored in liberal arts.” 7. Yoon Hye-jeong (Kirin Company, Japan) “My Japanese language ability helped me get hired despite my low GPA.” 8. Kim You-kyung (Lejel Home Shopping, Indonesia) “Look for the future and ample potentials when looking for potential employers.”9. Sung Wook (Crowne Plaza Hotel, China) “China is a land of opportunity where 500 hotels open every year.” 10. Lee Mi-yeon (Nissan Motor, Japan) “There’s no GPA section in job applications at foreign companies.”

With youth unemployment remaining high amid the dragging domestic economy, the government is expanding its overseas employment support programs to send 10,000 job-seekers overseas by 2017.

The JoongAng Ilbo interviewed 10 people working in China, Japan and Indonesia, across various sectors from telecom and automotive to e-commerce and cosmetics. Some were first-time job-seekers unable to get hired by local conglomerates, while some are former chaebol employees.

Despite different backgrounds and specialties, all said foreign employers valued their growth potential rather than academic background or alma mater.

Sung Wook, 37, used to work at one of the nation’s largest conglomerates, but quit at age 30 to work abroad.

Sung once received only 800,000 won a month - a fraction of what he made as a corporate worker. But after going through Portugal, the United States, Qatar, Cambodia and Thailand over the past six years, Sung now works at Crowne Plaza Hotel in China, and is excited about the new opportunities he sees in the country.

“There are tons of opportunities in China,” Sung said, “as domestic demand for hotels and accommodation facilities in China has soared recently, almost 500 new hotels open every year.”

Lee Mi-yeon, an architectural engineering graduate of Seoul National University, got a job as an auto designer at a research center of Nissan Motor in Yokohama, Japan last year.

Lee applied to nearly 20 Korean companies including Hyundai Motor, but was rejected by all because her GPA was lower than other applicants. She applied to Nissan at a job fair, where she realized the automaker didn’t have a GPA section on its job application.

Job opportunities from Japan are flying into Korea, as the economy has picked up steam with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s expansionary fiscal and monetary policies. New jobs are also emerging ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

“As senior workers of the Dankai generation [a postwar baby boomer generation born between 1947 and 1949] have reached their retirement age, the Japanese labor market of all sectors has demand for new workers,” said Kim Bo-kyung, a staff for Japanese job portal Mynavi.

Talented workers are also in demand in emerging economies like Indonesia, the world’s largest manufacturer of clothes.

Han Ji-yeon and Ha Yu-kyeong both studied textiles and fashion in college and were hired at a Jakarta-based Korean textile company, Doosan Cipta, last year. They found the position through overseas job program K-Move, run by the Human Resources Development Service of Korea (HRD Korea). Han is an overseas sales manager, in charge of products’ price and design negotiations with global fast-fashion brands like H&M.

“The talent we hired through the state-run K-Move program are more reliable than those we hired through regular job portals or headhunters,” said Park Hyo-jin, head of corporate management at Doosan Cipta.

Park added the company is currently looking for experienced IT workers from Korea.

HRD Korea has operated the K-Move program since 2013, and the government aims to use the program to help 10,000 youth job seekers to find work overseas by 2017. This is an ambitious goal considering that only about 13,800 Koreans received a job overseas from 2008 to 2013.

People seeking overseas work should first research which country fits their profession best, said HRD Korea. It added that job seekers have to pick their position carefully, because transfers or department shuffles are relatively rare in overseas companies.

Job seekers also have to pick a target country in advance to build necessary job experiences, as resume expectations differ among countries, the HRD Korea advised.

Japanese companies don’t like applicants with internship experiences because they avoid hiring experienced workers for entry-level positions. The HRD Korea advised those interested to start seeking Japanese jobs early and get hired before graduation.

China currently has demand for product quality managers, wedding planners, postpartum caretakers and fashion designers with computer skills.

It’s also important to watch visa regulations, which are different in each country.

China, for example, only grants work visas to those with a bachelor’s degree and relevant work experience of more than two years, and often requires excessive documentation.

BY SPECIAL REPORTING TEAM [kim.jiyoon@joongang.co.kr]
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