September 01, 2016 13:23
Major conglomerates have announced their hiring plans for the second half of this year, and fresh intake is being cut by around 10 percent. Already youth unemployment stands at around 10 percent and rising, but job opportunities in big companies are declining every year.
The blame does not lie with big companies alone, since they too are suffering from an economic slump, with massive layoffs at shipbuilders and construction companies. As the Korean economy reaches maturity, it is simply no longer possible to expect the rapid increase in jobs of an earlier era of steep economic growth.
But Koreans still tend to equate good jobs with big businesses. No wonder young Koreans are flocking to major conglomerates, which offer starting salaries of W30-40 million (US$1=W1,115).
Alternatives exist. Entrepreneurship and jobs overseas are not only for people who fail to land a job at Samsung or Hyundai. Yet so many young Koreans refuse to consider these options.
In advanced countries, 20 to 30 percent of students graduating from prestigious universities prefer to start their own businesses. The wealth created by entrepreneurs who graduated from MIT rivals the size of Korea’s entire economy, and total revenues of start-ups created by Stanford University graduates stand at more than W3,000 trillion, roughly the size of the French economy.
In China, more than 10,000 start-ups are launched every day. Japan and the U.K. are pushing ahead with policies to support start-ups to create jobs and stimulate their economies.
The Korean government also set up 17 innovative business support centers nationwide, but those are not enough. People first need to shed their ingrained aversion to entrepreneurship. Parents must stop thinking that launching a start-up is the road to ruin, and banks must stop being so suspicious of young entrepreneurs who ask for loans.
And now that big businesses are no longer able to provide for the whole country, they must stop swallowing and stifling start-ups the moment they show the slightest sign of success.
Young people also try more to find work overseas. Some 2,350 young people under 29 found a job overseas last year, almost doubling over the last three years, but that is not enough. Overseas job opportunities are diversifying from services and hotels to aviation, and more jobseekers should try to go after them.
The era when quality jobs were synonymous with big businesses is coming to an end. Young Koreans must embrace the new era.
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