The answer is in creating new jobs

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The answer is in creating new jobs

Park Mi-hyeon, 30, runs a company that recycles waste into fashion items. When she was still in college, she started making bags and pencil cases with used banners. She thought those who produce waste should be able to recycle it and came up with the idea of consulting for companies on recycling their waste.

Last year, she helped a cosmetics company recycle plastic bottles from a marathon event it had hosted into blankets. The company donated the blankets to those in need. Park’s company has 10 employees and its revenue is several hundred millions of won.

“It is fun to create works that never existed,” she said. “And I am also making money.”

Kim Seon-hyeok, 31, started a company helping local farm producers with product branding, packaging and online sales. He had the farmers and producers keep farming journals to be posted online for consumers. As one-person households are increasing, he developed small, one-kilogram (2.2-pound)containers for rice. He also developed packaging for storage in refrigerators.

A business major, Kim says, “There are many business opportunities using socially valuable causes.”

As the hiring season for the second half of the year approaches, college graduates and job seekers are preparing resumes and personal statements. However, job prospects are gloomy this year. According to the statistical office’s report on employment trends, the unemployment rate for people between 15 and 29 was 11.1 percent in February, the highest since the foreign currency crisis. It is hard to expect more jobs in the future. In the 1970s, the economy grew 9.1 percent on average. But on July 9, the Bank of Korea adjusted this year’s economic growth forecast down to 2.8 percent. The economic growth rate is going down and productivity is going up, so employment doesn’t expand. The employment coefficient, the number of employed people per 1 billion won ($885,740)in added value, decreased from 111 in 1970 to 25.8 in 2000.

In this situation, it is hard to resolve the unemployment problem by hoping to add to existing jobs. We need to expand employment opportunities by creating new jobs that never existed. In developed countries, jobs with social contributions are highlighted as new professional opportunities. More young people are founding social enterprises like Park and Kim, creating more jobs.

The government should also provide systematic support to create new jobs and career opportunities. As societal aging accelerates and welfare demands expand, these social jobs can be created to meet the changes. If health care-related jobs, such as providing care to seniors, are not legalized, the government and politicians need to consider revising the Medical Services Act.

There are professions in developed countries that don’t exist in Korea, such as caregivers for the socially disadvantaged or assistant teachers in education. The government can allocate a budget or create training programs for certifications. Large corporations cannot afford to drastically expand new hires, and quality jobs are limited. It is worth trying to change the job structure.

The author is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 10, Page 30


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