Nearly 2/3 of University Students Give up Job Search

  • By Kim Kang-han, Cho Yoo-mi

    October 13, 2021 13:35

    A growing number of university graduates give up looking for work, disillusioned and discouraged by the intense competition for jobs in big corporations.

    The Korea Economic Research Institute recently polled 2,713 juniors, seniors and graduates across the country and found that almost two-thirds or 65.3 percent have given up looking for work. Only one in 10 respondents said they are actively looking for jobs.

    The biggest reason they gave is that they feel they are not qualified to meet the requirements of big employers. Some 64.9 percent said they are no longer applying for job interviews, because they are trying to improve their skills and knowledge first.

    One big problem seems to be that they can only conceive of working for a big conglomerate or in the civil service because of status anxiety.

    One 26-year-old recently began studying for the civil service exam instead. "I worked as an intern in several companies when I was a university student and also took part in extracurricular activities to bolster my resume, but I wasn't invited to a single job interview," he said.

    Repeated rejections play havoc with young people's self-esteem. According to the KERI survey, jobseekers apply to 6.2 companies on average but are invited for an interview by only 1.6 of them, which translates into a success rate of just 25.8 percent.

    More than 80 percent of new hires by major conglomerates come from science or engineering backgrounds. One 25-year-old who majored in the humanities said, "I'm thinking of taking the civil service exam, but I'm not sure what I am capable of doing, so I've pretty much given up."

    Experts say the government and universities must come up with better programs to help young people hone their job skills. "The long-term strategy should be to make job opportunities in small and mid-sized companies more appealing to young Koreans, but until then effective programs are needed to help them improve their job skills," said Prof. Lee Byoung-hoon at Chungang University. 

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