The young and the jobless getting desperate in Korea

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The young and the jobless getting desperate in Korea

A youth job center in Jung District, central Seoul, is closed on Dec. 29 amid the coronavirus pandemic. [YONHAP]

A youth job center in Jung District, central Seoul, is closed on Dec. 29 amid the coronavirus pandemic. [YONHAP]

 
Young Koreans are having a difficult time finding a job, according to a survey by the Economic, Social & Labor Council.  
 
The presidential council conducted a survey of roughly 1,000 young people aged 19 to 39 who have been actively seeking jobs. 
 
According to the survey, 91 percent said it became difficult to get a job after the virus pandemic started. A full 84.7 percent said even finding a part-time job is difficult these days.  
 
Roughly 76.5 percent of respondents said companies are “cutting back on hiring new recruits.” Of those surveyed, 70.8 percent said the Covid-19 pandemic even took away their opportunity to prepare for employment, such as receiving vocational education or studying for certificates.  
 
Youths are also pessimistic about the future.  
 
Only 10.9 percent of respondents said the employment situation will improve in the future.  
 
Due to hopelessness, many young people in Korea have been suffering depression.  
 
The average depression level of all respondents was 23.2 out of 60. People with a score of 16 to 20 are suffering from “mild” depression. Those scoring 21 to 25 have "serious" depression, while people with a score 25 or higher are going through severe depression and need some counseling.  
 
The situation was most evident for people who have been seeking jobs for over one year and university students and graduates of two- and three-year community colleges.  
 
The depression level of young people who have been seeking jobs for over a year was 25.9 out of 60 while that of students and graduates of two- and three-year community colleges was 25.  
 
Students from specialized high schools are those who receive vocational education and training at school.  
 
Seven out of 10 students and graduates of specialized high schools said they have difficulty due to reduced number of jobs. A full 66 percent said they have changed their plans and entered university or have been preparing for college admission.  
 
Roughly 63 percent said they have experienced a delay or cancelation of job offers due to the virus pandemic.  
 
Another 54 percent said they are hopeless as most job fairs have been canceled and postponed indefinitely. 
 
The survey result also shows that specialized high school students have serious anxiety due to classes that have been shifted online. The students usually try specific techniques and learn specialized skills in the high school and find a job with the experience they have acquired.  
 
But some 55 percent said they could not receive training properly as all offline classes have been held online.    
 
“Covid-19 has an adverse effect on youths,” said Moon Sung-hyun, chairperson of the Economic, Social & Labor Council. “In order to secure the future labor force and utilize them, it is essential for us to establish an agenda and have a discussion about the youth employment.”  
 
BY CHEA SARAH  [chea.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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