Training to be offered at later age
The Labor Ministry said it will also consider giving retirement benefits to some people 65 and older who weren’t qualified in the past.
The ministry said such plans will help more middle-aged Koreans find jobs, particularly at small and mid-sized companies that have a hard time finding new workers.
“Currently the government consider people aged 65 and older as seniors and pay them various pension benefits and exempt them from paying subway charges,” said an official at the Labor Ministry. “However, society is aging rapidly and it is causing a financial burden for the government. The economy could suffer a fall in the economically active population. We think the government needs to minimize the number of middle-aged workers with experience leaving the labor market.”
The government’s plans also include addressing the high youth unemployment rate.
According to the ministry, the unemployment rate for people between the ages of 15 and 29 rose from 7.5 percent in 2012 to 9.9 percent last year, which is the highest since 1999. Additionally, government data showed that young Koreans are not interested in taking jobs at small and midsize companies because they pay half the salaries that large companies pay.
“We believe there will be fewer job openings in the first half of this year due to weak domestic demand and growing uncertainties from within the country and abroad,” said an official at the ministry.
The ministry said it will execute a budget to help young Koreans get jobs, which has been expanded by 9.5 percent year on year to 2.6 trillion won ($2.15 billion), as early as it can.
The government said there are too few vocational high schools in the country and that the number should increase.
“There are nearly 93,000 Korean high school students that don’t plan to attend college who are learning to be prepared for the college entrance exam in Korea,” said the ministry. “The government was only able to give specific job training to 11,000 of them, which is very small when considering the number of people who are not planning to go to college.”
According to the labor ministry, there are nearly 142,000 middle school graduates that want to attend vocational high schools a year, but only about 105,000 find places. The government said 47 percent of high school students in the OECD attend vocational schools on average, while the figure was only 19 percent for Korean students.
The ministry said it will come up with details about expanding the number of vocational schools by next month.
The government also plans to include three big shipbuilders - Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, Samsung Heavy Industries and Hyundai Heavy Industries - in unemployment benefit programs.
Through a special designation, shipbuilding companies could receive more money from the central government for unemployment promotion subsidies, and former employees could receive unemployment benefits. The government didn’t include the three big shipbuilders in the past because it thought the companies could deal with their own employment problems and because they appeared to be reluctant to go along with turnaround plans.
BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [email@example.com]