Gov’t admits jobs-for-young plan needs work

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Gov’t admits jobs-for-young plan needs work

With the youth unemployment rate running over 10 percent and job opportunities at large companies shrinking, the government vowed once again to expand working possibilities for young people and women Wednesday.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance announced specific measures in April to boost jobs for youth and women, and government officials discussed their progress on Wednesday at a meeting presided over by Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho.

The Finance Ministry admitted there hasn’t been much progress made since April but said it is necessary for the government to continue to do something to meet the goal.

“The youth unemployment rate is because companies are reducing their investments due to various reasons, including the ongoing corporate restructuring and the slow economy,” said Finance Minister Yoo on Wednesday. “The government will create jobs for young Koreans and have companies invest more by proceeding with structural reform in the labor market and other areas and by revitalizing the economy through a supplementary budget.”

A total of 667 young job seekers applied for interviews at job fairs the government held over the past three months, and 87 of them got job offers, according to the Finance Ministry. The government’s plan was to have 89 participating companies recruit some 2,500 people by the end of this year.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance said Wednesday it will use 1.9 trillion won ($1.67 billion) from a 9.8 trillion won supplementary budget to create some 68,000 new jobs. The Finance Ministry said it will have public, educational and health institutions hire 42,103 new employees.

The government said it will allow as many teachers as possible to apply for voluntary resignations or early retirements in order to hire more substitute and part-time teachers to fill the gap. In fact, Yoo said public institutions hired some 40,000 new teachers by adopting the peak wage system and by expanding the amount allocated for voluntary retirement allowance. The so-called peak wage system reduces staff workers’ salaries as they near retirement, and companies are supposed to use the savings to hire more entry level employees.

The government’s goal is to have 7,500 teachers retire by the end of this year, but there were only 3,987 who did in the first half of this year.

The government said the low number was mainly due to a lack of financial resources to use for retirement packages and that it will allocate some of the supplementary budget. The ministry added that there are more women working compared to the past, but said that many in their 20s to 40s quit to have children and never find a way back to the workplace.

BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]

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