At first glance, South Korea's overall unemployment rate (as published by the government) is remarkably low (3~4%) compared with other countries. Hence, it is easy to think that finding a job in Korea with be relatively easy, right?
Well, not quite. In reality, and according to recent study conducted by the Hyundai Research Institute, the unemployment rate for fresh career builders (those attending school or recent graduates - ages between 15 and 29 years old) is at 22.1% rather than 7.7%. According to this study, the figure which exceeds 20% has reached a crisis level for those who are looking to find a job in Korea.
If you searching for a so-called a "good" job --- in other words, white collar, career oriented occupational work, which offer best-in-class compensation and benefits; then these jobs (for young adults) are even more difficult to find and get.
So, the question is What do you think? Do you think 22.1% is a more realistic measure, or do you think 7.7% is on target? Would you care to share any success stories? Or any weird stories you've recently experienced? What are/were your lessons learned/learnt?
It's odd, in the foreign press I hear about how low Korea's unemployment rate is, but when I talk to Koreans they always mention how hard it is to find a good job right now.
However, maybe this will lead to more creativity and innovation in the market as more young people push out and start their own companies, instead of finding work through the traditional means.
Mike, I rather do believe 22.1% instead of 7.7%. If I speak to Koreans and we can talk a bit more about private matters I do hear often a quite different picture. They do tell about the extreme difficulties to find a job on entry level. Or getting a job and don´t get paid for a while which I would consider as ´no job´at all. Although I don´t want to be too negative I truly think that young people below 25 years old they do experience a different job market than we the -old guys-.
But also I like to point out that quite a bunch of youngsters who just got graduated do seems to think that a fast careerpath within 2 years should land in a high profile position. So wrong! They just want to skip the necessary steps to grow gradually into the -right place-.
I think that Ryan Huddleston is right that maybe the Koreans should change their focus and not only apply to the big chaebols but to SME-companies as well. And why not to start your own biz?
I agree with both of your comments. However, as we had already discussed on KBC, Korea is generally not the most conducive place (country) to start your own business --- a country where Chaebols get all (or more accurately put "seemingly" all) the attention.
I imagine and expect great young business people (men and women) - future leaders - will rise should they take another (or different) route than starting their careers as a government worker or a company that is Chaebol affiliated.
Below is a newly released statistic which surprised me; and helped me put things into perspecitve. There are now (an estimated) 100,000 foreign students in South Korea - up significantly from 2005.
During the "venture" or "dot.com" boom in Korea (circa 1994 and before the IMF crisis/1997), Chaebols had a real hard time retaining top talent. Now, some (although admitingly a small proportion) of these young top talents who had left the Chaebol companies during that period (15~18 years ago) are now true and largely successful entrepreneurs - so, good on them !
Following up on Eun-Shil's suggestion that more Korean job seekers apply to small companies, the stats in Mike's other discussion yesterday about salaries for new entry level posit... shows why they don't. The differential in monetary compensation, not to mention reputation, advancement opportunities and job security, is just too great!
I hope those Korean entrepreneurs Mike discusses here figure out how to compete in a chaebol-dominated economy without getting swallowed by the chaebol and hurry up and hire more people!
The majority of new generation of college graduates - according to a recent survey - want to work for (1) government or (2) chaebol, if they can't get accepted as a government worker. Becoming a (3) teacher is also still popular. With future high demand foreseen, becoming a (4) nurse - even for men - is also moving up on the list.
In the past, becoming a (A) doctor or (B) lawyer was the thing to do, if you were smart and bright. Unfortunately, the honor, wealth, privilege held by people in these occupations, nowadays, are not as strong as they were in the past. Many doctors and lawyers in Korea (people with law degree) are finding it hard to live-up to Korea's social expectation in terms of them reaping good financial fortune - or high income. Nowadays, if you're talented more students are more interested in becoming a K-PoP (or movie) star, ice-skater and/or professional golfer - where if you've enjoyed success, the rewards are tremendous.
Unfortunately, and as you (Steve) point(s) out - small companies have little (social, legal) protection over chaebol dominance. I've had a friend who family was doing well - this was 20 years ago - but after the chaebol's heard it was a money-making industry, they entered into the market and ruined by friend's family business. In other words, this family had file to for bankruptcy - no fun - because of getting swallowed.
However, and on the up side, their are a few examples - success stories - such as the case of the Nexon corporation which didn't get swallowed by a chaebol. And to some extent, chaebols are now engaged in M&A - paying market price - for acquiring even small local companies. This gives huge incentives to start-up and become a small and entrepreneurial business owner. More rules and law need to be put into place to help new start-ups and small medium size businesses so that they are not lopsided to favor those who have money to buy court decisions.
In Korea, there is old saying - we don't know if its true. But the saying is "유전무죄, 무전유죄" - which means if you have money, then you will not be found guilty; if you do not have money, then you will be found guilty (even if you are innocent) in a court of law. I think the truth behind this saying (if there was ever a truth) is changing today because we see more court decisions that are not always "predictable - for the lack of a better word" as they were in the past.
Getting back to the original subject, the reality is that 22.1% of college graduates [which about a fifth of 70% of the same age group population --- since 70% of high-school students go on continue their studies at university] will be making about 1.5 to 2.0 million KRW (about $1,300~1,750) - near minimum wage - per month. Part time jobs offer 880,000 KRW ($765) per month- so people who are at young-adult-age in Korea are sometimes called the "88-generation" or "팔팔세대".
There is a real story of one student, which is interesting. He dropped out of college; and signed-up for a vocational school. His goals was to become an "auto-mechanic" a good one at that - and then to move to Australia where he could make a comfortable living. This story is interesting because this particular student was capable of thinking-outside-the-box.
Ironically, the real hard work --- in other words, the 3D jobs (dirty, dangerous and difficult) --- are now being filled by workers (on visa) from Mongolia, Nepal, South Asia and Korean-Chinese who were not born in Korea.
According to the below report/article; and to complete the full picture; and to also further highlight why so people in Korea wish to get a good/higher education ...
40% of all workers in Korea make less than 1,000,000 won per month, which is equal to $869 a month (= $10,435 per year). In other words, and to put this into a different perspective, if you have a good education and enter into one of the Top 10 paying Chaebol companies, you will roughly earn in your 1st-week out of school/university, the same amount of what the 40% of the population makes in 1-month.