'There are no jobs left in good SMEs'

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'There are no jobs left in good SMEs'

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Employment and Labor, the number of unfilled vacancies at small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) recently hit the highest point in 10 years at 114,000, with the most jobs in manufacturing and production.

But at the same time, the employment rate for college graduates stood at 65.1 percent as of 2020, the lowest point since 2011 when the Ministry of Education started collecting data. According to research results released by the Korea Enterprises Federation, young people said they are willing to get a job at SMEs if they offer a “decent role.” When being asked what a “decent role” was, 66.5 percent said it is a job with a good work life balance, 43.3 percent said fair compensations and 32.8 percent said welfare benefits.
A complex mix of different structural factors are causing this imbalance in the labor market, including the income gap between conglomerates and SMEs, underdeveloped working conditions, preferences for people with experience and the dual labor market. In July, Minister of Employment and Labor Lee Jeong-shik officially announced that the government will promote a reform to resolve structural issues in the labor market by creating more private sector jobs and offering more support.

“There are no jobs left in good SMEs, just like in conglomerates.”
“Stop crying out that there’s no talent to employ. Offer higher wages and better welfare benefits and the number of applicants will go up surely.”
“The proportion of people with bachelor’s degree remains below 30 percent in the United States and the European region. But it accounts for 85 percent here.”
“College graduates will keep chasing higher wages and better benefits as they prefer working for conglomerates rather than SMEs.”  
“Higher wages should be given to workers when considering their intense workload. The blanket wage system needs to be revamped.”
“The criteria for applying for unemployment benefits should be examined.”

BY KIM EUN-SONG, BY HAN HYE-RIM [han.hyerim1@joongang.co.kr]
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