Some 14 million out of the nation's 16 million workers are employed in small and mid-sized companies, a report by the Small and Medium Business Administration shows.
They were also responsible for most of the new jobs that were created over the last six or seven years. From 2009 to 2014, 2.56 million new jobs were created, and 2.28 million jobs or 88.8 percent came from SMEs.
But the gap in wages and other conditions continues to widen between large businesses and SMEs, which is putting many young people off, leading to a rising youth unemployment rate.
The average monthly salary in SMEs stood at W2.94 million in 2015, just 60.6 percent of the W4.85 million employees in large firms earned (US$1=W1,180).
The wage gap has actually worsened since 2009, when SME staff earned 61.4 percent of their counterparts' salaries in big businesses.
Despite soaring youth unemployment, SMEs therefore still face a shortage of workers because they cannot persuade young people that they have a viable future there.