In shipbuilding regions, help on the way

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In shipbuilding regions, help on the way

The government announced a set of measures on Sunday to minimize the negative impacts from ongoing restructuring in the Korean shipping and shipbuilding industries.

The Ministry of Employment and Labor said the government would give special benefits such as job training to the self-employed who are operating businesses, such as restaurants and cafes, in regions hit by ongoing restructuring including the city of Ulsan and various cities in the province of South Gyeongsang. The government will also provide financial aid to help participants pay for training programs.

The goal is to help them find new jobs where they can have a stable salary or open up new businesses that will be less impacted by the region’s slow economy.

Unemployment numbers from July showed the nationwide rate dropped 0.2 percentage points from the previous year to 3.5 percent. But unemployment in South Gyeongsang, home to major shipyards, rose 1 percentage point to 3.6 percent.

In the southern port city of Ulsan, where shipbuilding is also centered, unemployment rose 1.2 percentage points to hit 3.9 percent. It was the highest jump in unemployment in the nation.

“The government came up with the new plans since we do believe that restructuring in the shipbuilding industry is not only having impact on the industry’s employees but also the self-employed who run businesses in the affected regions,” said Kwon Ki-seop, director general of the Labor Ministry’s Vocational Skills Policy Bureau.

According to the ministry, the government has decided to expand the number of beneficiaries eligible for the job training program and will reduce the number of days needed for applicants to receive financial support to pay for participation in the program.

At the moment, only business owners who have annual sales of less than 80 million won ($72,332) are able to receive job training help from the government, but the limit will be increased to 150 million won.

It also currently takes nearly four weeks for the government to review applications and provide financial aid for the job training program, but the government said it will lower that process to 10 business days.

The government will increase its maximum financial support for the job training program per person from 2 million won to 3 million won.

On Sunday, Joo Hyung-hwan, the minister of trade, industry and energy, met with a number of entrepreneurs and business insiders who focus on exports and promised them that the government would do its best to reduce negative impacts coming from Hanjin Shipping’s debt situation.

“The government will cooperate with various public institutions, including the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency and Korea International Trade Association, in order to have Hanjin Shipping’s vessels arrive to their final destinations,” Joo said Sunday. “We believe major shareholders of the shipping company need to become more responsible in order to avoid shipping chaos.”

The ministry has pledged 400 billion won from the just-passed supplementary government budget to support small and midsize shipping companies.


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




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