KT to invest 23 trillion won and hire 36,000 new employees

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KT to invest 23 trillion won and hire 36,000 new employees

KT will spend 23 trillion won ($20 billion) on setting up infrastructure for its high-speed 5G network, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud business and hire 36,000 new employees over the next five years, the company said Monday.

The announcement follows a series of investment and hiring plans released by major conglomerates in Korea like Samsung Electronics, Hanwha and Posco in the past month. The government has been pushing large companies to expand their investments and create jobs to boost the sluggish economy.

According to KT, it will invest 9.6 trillion won on establishing a next generation 5G network, 3.9 trillion won on developing technologies like AI, cloud and virtual reality and 9.5 trillion won on supporting the growth of KT affiliates. The cash injection will begin next year and will be completed by 2023.

During that time, KT will also hire 6,000 college graduates and 30,000 regular employees.

KT also plans to run free training programs to increase expertise in the fourth industrial revolution. The mobile carrier said that the program will help job seekers, who often lack expertise in digital technologies and related businesses, gain the skills they need for the future.

Two free training programs — the Fourth Industrial Revolution Academy and 5G Academy — will be available to job seekers who are interested in AI, big data, cloud technology and 5G. The company said it will take about 400 trainees a year for the two programs to train 2,000 experts over the next five years.

The company’s final target is to expand its partnerships with local small and medium-sized companies. It is planning to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by offering its software development tools for free and creating opportunities to enter global markets together.

KT said its first step will be to invite SMEs to join its project to install 5G network infrastructure nationwide. The carrier has been gathering together a group of SMEs to co-develop network equipment, like repeaters, since last year.

The carrier plans to spend an additional 10 billion won on joint research and development projects with SMEs and create a 500-billion-won fund to support the stabilization of their businesses. Last week, it opened the 5G Open Lab, a space where its partners can test equipment designed to work on 5G networks. KT says roughly 100 SMEs are already using the facility.

Top Korean chaebol have been rolling out investment plans for the next three to five years as the Moon Jae-in administration pushes them to play their part in reinvigorating the economy from early this year.

Earlier this month, Korea’s largest steelmaker Posco said it will inject 45 trillion won into upgrading steel facilities and developing future businesses over the next five years until 2023. The company also vowed to hire 20,000 workers during the period.

Last month, Samsung Electronics vowed to invest 180 trillion won into its future business and hire 40,000 workers over the next three years, while Hanwha Group promised to invest 22 trillion won and hire 35,000 employees over the next five years.

Hyundai Motor Group, SK Group, LG Group and Shinsegae Group all released investment plans earlier this year or at the end of last year after meeting with Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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