Thinking for Change

Thinking for Change

Change is needed in fundamental way of thinking

Employment is becoming an increasingly complicated social and economic issue in industrial countries, encompassing demographics, education and technological development.

The National Employment Strategy for 2020, which passed a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, reaffirms the truth that the government can’t offer a solution to this structural problem by mere compilation of miscellaneous measures.

It calls for, among other things, introducing a ``wage peak” system, in which aged workers reduce both their work hours and wages by half and give the other half to younger, jobless workers. The biggest problem with this job-sharing idea is the quality of employment will also go down to half, which will not be acceptable for the young and highly-educated.

The same can be said about the government’s virtual relaxation of rules on hiring temporary workers, allowing start-up businesses to hire the temps for more than two years without upgrading their status to regular employees. Government officials and employers might say any jobs would be better than no jobs, but labor circles are furious ― with reason ― the ostensible rise in employment rate leads to a fall in employment quality.

True, the high youth unemployment rate is inevitable to a certain extent in a country like Korea where up to 80 percent of young people go to college. There is too serious a mismatch between the supply and demand of high-end labor. But it is also the establishment, most notably the government through its education policy, which has inculcated the younger generations that only college diplomas, especially those in humanities departments, can ensure success in life.

How should one compare this unproductive educational zeal with examples of some, far more industrialized countries like Germany, where society and parents help middle-school students to decide their future career between skilled workers and college education?

Korean employers...

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