(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on March 18)
Create jobs for youth
Korea is in an employment crisis. The jobless toll last month reached 1.35 million, nearing the number following the financial crisis in the late 1990s when Korea Inc. had to endure massive layoffs in return for an international bailout. When including the 500,000 who had given up looking for jobs after numerous failures and another 600,000 graduates who would have to seek jobs, the redundant number reached as many as 2.5 million.
The job market would be most tough for young people over the next five years. About 720,000 were born on average annually from 1991 to 1995, nearly 100,000 more than those born in the late 1980s. Since then births have been decreasing, and last year, the newly-born figure shrank to 400,000. Despite the greater number of job seekers in their 20s, workplaces cannot afford to increase recruits because the retirement age has been pushed back to 60.
More strategic and careful planning is therefore necessary to address youth unemployment. The government, legislative and the corporate sector must join forces to work out immediate as well as lasting solutions.
The numbers of jobless youth have gotten less attention due to the presidential election being held on May 9 instead of the original December plan following Park's impeachment verdict. The platform is mostly rhetorical without any details. Prominent presidential contenders are just suggesting to use tax money to increase jobs.
A group of experts that joined the Reset Korea campaign from the JoongAng Ilbo and JTBC proposed a more feasible policy.
They said the government should raise subsidies and spending for the next five years, but have the private sector willingly take the lead in increasing jobs. The state budget should be spent to groom 50,000 young people in the research and development, accounting, legal and overseas marketing fields so they can find decent-paying jobs in promising small and midsize companies.
The group also proposes deregulation zones where businesses would be free to experiment with innovations without regulation constraints. Candidates must come forward with tangible plans to create jobs for the young.