| The National Statistical Office said Wednesday that the number of employed people stood at 25.53 million people as of November, up by 588,000 from a year earlier. Although the total unemployment rate was down by 0.1 percentage point, the rate of joblessness among younger people at age 15 to 29 increased by 0.8 percentage point. This suggests that the improvement situation in the job market does not affect the younger generations. The Bank of Korea said in a report Wednesday that the number of youths who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) reached 724,000, up by 148,000 from 2005.
Among people who have college or higher education but are not engaged in economic activities (students, housewives and those who give up seeking job for a long time), NEET youths account for 52 percent. This means that people with high educational backgrounds who have lost their eagerness to work for failure to find jobs account for more than half of economically inactive people. Most of them are young people seeking jobs, preparing to go to graduate schools or simply staying idle. College graduates prefer to get stable jobs at large corporations or state-run companies. Those who cannot get hired by big businesses choose to take a semester or two off in their senior year to seek for a second chance, without even trying to find jobs at small and medium companies. Or some of them go to graduate school to have another chance for preferred jobs.
Once one joins a small company or is hired as an irregular employee, it is not easy to move to a big business. Companies usually recruit new workers among those fresh out of college or graduate schools or about to graduate. The path from small companies to large corporations is literally blocked. Therefore, many young people seek more education or specifications once they fail to get jobs at big businesses fresh out of college. The number of such preferred jobs is too small. But the concentration of job seekers on the preferred jobs is fanning excessive education.
Korea`s youth employment rate is 40.4 percent, the 29th among 34 member economies of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The rate is far lower than those of the U.S. (55.7 percent), Britain (60.2 percent) or Germany (57.7 percent). In order to reduce joblessness among the younger generations, Korea should create a business-friendly environment that would enable companies to create many quality jobs. The country also needs to implement bold deregulations in have value-added services industries such as tourism, medicine and education. The entry barrier between small companies and big businesses should also be lowered. Benefits for regular employees should be reduced in return for increased protection for irregular workers.