Graduates Struggle to Land Full-Time Jobs, Many Choose Military

      September 21, 2009 10:57

      Half of university graduates are having a hard time finding permanent jobs, and a rising number are choosing to join the military -- now four out of every 100 male graduates of four-year universities. The recession coupled with a growing preference among companies for contract workers rather than permanent employment is hitting new diploma holders hard.

      According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Korean Educational Development Institute on Sunday, 379,524 or 76.4 percent of 547,416 new university graduates found jobs after leaving school in February.

      But only 48.3 percent landed permanent jobs, down 7.8 percent from 56.1 percent last year, whereas the percentage who found temporary jobs rose from 18.8 percent last year to 26.2 percent this year. In 2005, 56.7 percent of new university graduates found permanent employment and 15.7 percent temporary jobs.

      Experts say the primary reason behind the accelerating shift is the smaller number of permanent positions available due to the economic crisis and changing employment patterns.

      "Because of the economic downturn even internship announcements are drawing applications from great numbers of highly-qualified candidates," said Yoo Gyeong-joon, a senior researcher at the Korea Development Institute. "There seems to be a growing practice of hiring interns and then transferring them to permanent positions."

      Some critics say that a state-funded project which offers internship opportunities at small and mid-sized firms is in fact hampering the prospects for young people to find permanent jobs.

      According to a paper submitted by the Education Ministry to the National Assembly for parliamentary audit, 5,461 or 3.7 percent of male graduates from four-year universities joined the military last year. That is even higher than 3.38 percent during the 1997 economic crisis, and more than three times greater than 1.07 percent in 2007.

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