Stopgaps Can't Hide Gov't's Failed Job Policy

      October 25, 2018 13:42

      The government has announced yet another new set of job-creation measures after the last one unveiled just seven months ago flopped. The latest gimmick is to create 59,000 internships and temporary positions that last for just two to three months to fiddle employment figures, while behind the scenes Cheong Wa Dae has been pressuring state-run companies to hire temps. Combined with the estimated 30,000 part-time public-sector jobs, nearly 90,000 temporary positions will be offered by the end of the year, all at taxpayers' expense. On paper, that would almost meet the government's target of creating 100,000 jobs.

      A closer look at the 59,000 temporary jobs the government aims to create shows the scale of the deception. Some 5,300 interns will get paid W1.5 million a month simply to experience what it is like to work (US$1=W1,133). Another 1,000 young Koreans will be hired to check if all the lights have been turned off in public buildings, and another 1,500 to look out for fires in forests and open-air markets. More temps will be hired to monitor the employment of illegal aliens, publicize payment methods benefiting small businesses, make sure open-air markets look tidy and ensure that farming equipment is nicely oiled and polished. Few if any of these jobs can be considered proper work. They are merely ploys to boost employment figures.

      The government's push to get state-run companies to shift temporary workers to permanent staff status created a truckload of headaches, chiefly rampant nepotism. Yet the same government that has vowed to stamp out zero-hour contracts and insecure employment is creating more of them.

      It is of course true that job growth is needed to spur private consumption, but fake jobs cannot lead to real growth, and without growth there can be no increase in real jobs. The government also pledges to create private-sector jobs through "innovative growth," which sounds great but comes without any concrete plans. Everything has been filed in the "later" bins on the desks of bureaucrats. Officials from related ministries and Cheong Wa Dae have met five times so far, yet they are too scared of the labor unions to take bold steps. The government says it is merely "considering" extending flexi time, and its response to an emergency request by cash-strapped automotive parts suppliers for a W3 trillion bailout was a W1 trillion debt guarantee.

      Stopgap measures at the expense of taxpayers will not fix the fundamental problem, yet bureaucrats are under such pressure that they keep coming up with these gimmicks. What is really needed is bold deregulation that will give businesses more freedom to hire and fire workers and create proper jobs.

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