The cruel month of October

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The cruel month of October

 CHANG CHUNG-HOON
The author is the head of the industry 1 team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

One in four young people are jobless, six out of ten gave up looking for a job, and three in 100 are reclusive loners. These are the images of young people reflected in various statistics released earlier this month. October used to be the month of dreams, when large corporations begin recruiting. But it has become the cruelest month.

The Korea Economic Research Institute released a survey result that 65 percent of college students and graduates have given up looking for a job. They gave up because their qualifications were insufficient to find employment. Yet young people today are of the generation armed with various licenses and certificates, such as computer programing, data analysis and e-commerce management.

I am shocked by the September employment statistics released by Statistics Korea. The number of employed increased by 670,000 on-year. Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Hong Nam-ki, who was visiting Washington DC, welcomed the news, as jobs in the private sector, mostly in services, have recovered despite the fourth surge of Covid-19. But if you look at the 316,000 jobs created in the private sector, they are mostly functional, mechanical and operational positions in food, textile and construction or simple labor in manufacturing, transport, cleaning, security and housework. Almost three-hundred-thousand jobs outside the private sector are public administration and health and welfare jobs with government funding. In other words, half of the newly employed, or 48 percent, are over the age 60, while the employed in their 30s looking for decent jobs actually decreased by 12,000.

Frustrated young people who are unable to find a job have lost confidence. According to the National Youth Policy Institute, 3.4 percent of the people in their 20s and 30s, or about 370,000, are recluses who don’t go out except to go to the convenience store. The number increased by 2.4 percent from the previous year. The increase of reclusive young people was caused by the impact of Covid-19, such as more online classes and less outdoor activities, but prolonged preparation for employment was a decisive factor.

Some research results offer comfort. Jobs at Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motors, LG Electronics, SK Hynix, Kia Motors and Samsung C&T, which are Fortune Global 500 companies, increased from 276,948 in 2015 to 300,491 last year, up 8.5 percent. Especially last year, jobs at these seven companies grew 2 percent despite the spread of Covid-19. But when small or medium-sized companies become major corporations, they are subjected to stifling regulations such as the Fair Trade Act, the Financial Holding Company Act and the Commercial Act. The way to make universities flooded with job postings next October is obvious. The government must help companies to create jobs.

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