Over the past five decades, South Korea has developed into a strong nation financially and has become one of the G-20 countries with high economic growth potential and stability. It’s hard to believe that it has only been about sixty years since the Korean War. Since then, Korea has flourished in many different areas of business and has developed a huge economic market worldwide. Top leading companies including Samsung, Hyundai, LG, SK and Posco influence Korean economy.
Then, why is the unemployment rate still so high, especially for young college graduates? In his book, Cheol Soo’s Thoughts, Professor Cheol Soo An explains that if there are 20 million workers looking for opportunities, then, there are only 2 million actual job opportunities out there, which only makes up to be about 10% of the total available working force. This is the reality of today’s job market and to gain an entrance into that top 10%, the employees would have to compete fiercely among themselves. Of course, the companies would only hire those with outstanding educational background and other impeccable talents since the spots are so limited. Therefore, it’s definitely the employer’s market, and the employees don’t have much of a choice.
Obviously, for potential workers, working for these few enormous companies like Samsung or Hyundai becomes their dream. These companies pay higher salaries and offer better benefits than those of small or venture companies. Then, what happens to those who don’t make it to these big conglomerates? Some of them take second choice jobs or some of them end up waiting around for next hiring phase or some of them end up going back to schools to get higher degrees. Korean society focuses so much on education that many of these young workers are over qualified, and they only look for jobs which would fulfill their pride and self-esteem. Therefore, the young ones with fewer credentials would have less chance of being hired.
To be honest, there is no easy way out to resolve the current unemployment crisis for young people. Perhaps, a quick solution would be to create jobs at least 5 times the current labor capacity. However, how do we do that? That would be extremely difficult to do all at once. An ideal solution would be to take a model and incorporate it; let’s say for example, the Silicon Valley in California. How it works there is that educational background is not the #1 factor to view a worker, but it’s the potential, skills, and talent he or she possesses. These qualities may include creativity, innovative thoughts, vision, special talent, and leadership. In the Silicon Valley area, failing can be viewed as inevitable since many people take the initiative to start something new. This is the “Mecca” of new technology. Look at Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerburg. They are the pioneers of high-tech industry, and these companies provide so many jobs for young professionals in the area.
Therefore, in order to be able to offer more jobs and opportunities, the following should be implemented by the government and major corporations:
1. Increase the number of special internship programs and part-time work experiences before the actual hiring.
2. Focus on individual talent and ability rather than just the educational background.
3. Provide job training and job counseling service to help young people find jobs.
4. Create more jobs that are specialized and individualized.
5. Encourage employee’s ability to actively participate in the work force.
One news report said that in a normal Korean class, all students are intelligent when answering given questions about a certain subject. However, when asked to make a thought-intriguing question, many couldn’t come up with a question since their creativity has been all drawn out. Therefore, in order for Korea to decrease the unemployment rate for young people, we should value our ability, creativity, and individuality as well as our differences.