April 23, 2020 12:53
The government on Wednesday announced a W3.4-trillion plan to create 550,000 jobs as employment shrivels due to the coronavirus epidemic (US$1=W1,233). It is part of a W10.1 trillion emergency package to help businesses and workers affected by the epidemic.
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said the plan is a "bold investment" accounting for 40 percent of this year's job-creation budget and designed to help 2.86 million people, 2.5 times more than the 1.15 million Koreans who were unemployed last year.
Some W500,000 a month will be given for three months to 930,000 mom-and-pop businesses and temporary workers including freelancers whose earnings have been severely hit by the epidemic. Another 320,000 workers who have been put on unpaid leave will also be given W500,000 a month for three months.
The government will also provide more emergency funds for businesses and waive their employment and other insurance fees to prevent them from laying off workers due to cash shortages. The allowance of W500,000 a month for young jobseekers will be extended from six to 11 months.
But most of the jobs designed for 300,000 laid-off workers and bankrupt small business owners overlap with temporary menial positions already created for senior citizens, such as environmental and forest-fire monitors. The pay is slightly above minimum wage and they entail no more than 30 hours of work a week for six months.
The controversial sinecures created for senior citizens pay roughly the same amount but last up to 10 months, and most of them have been halted during the lockdown.
The situation is similar for 100,000 jobs the government plans to create in digital administration. They involve 15 to 40 hours of work a week on a maximum six-month contract and include work like online data collection.
Some 150,000 jobs are to be created by giving subsidies to companies who recruit young people. The government will give W800,000 maximum a month for up to six months to businesses to run internship programs and W1 million a month to small and medium businesses that hire new staff.
This has raised concerns that most of the new jobs will be dead-end positions that offer no hope of future employment.
Sung Tae-yoon at Yonsei University said, “Expanding government-supported jobs could end up making young people reliant on such positions because it fails to harness any skills they need to find employment in the private sector. Instead, the government should strengthen job-training programs for them while helping companies create more jobs on their own."
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