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Hiring is up, but graduates are still pessimistic

Most want to work at conglomerates, for the high salaries mainly
Oct 02,2019
When it comes to employment for graduates, signals remain mixed, as do expectations.

According to a survey by the Korea Economic Research Institute released Tuesday, 46 percent of those in school or just graduating say it is harder to find a job than it was just a year ago.

While 30 percent said the level of difficulty in landing a job is the same last year, only 2.5 percent said it was easier.

But the statistics suggest that hiring is brisk. In August, new hires totaled 452,000, which is the most in nearly two and a half years.

In August alone, 63,000 young people aged 15 to 29 landed jobs. That’s a stark contrast to those in their 30s and 40s, a category in which jobs were lost.

The research institute said one of the reasons nearly half of the young people consider the job opportunities to be worse than last year is because of unfavorable internal and external factors, including the ongoing trade standoff between the United States and China, the trade conflict with Japan and the rising minimum wage.

“The government should create an environment that would help increase hiring through bold regulatory reforms, policies that would vitalize business activities and a flexible labor market,” said Choo Kwang-ho, head of the research institute’s employment strategy department.

The study also found that young people prefer conglomerates, a switch from last year, when the most preferred job was at state-owned companies.

In the survey, 23 percent said they would like to land jobs at conglomerates, while 19.8 percent said they would like to work at state-owned companies. A total of 12.7 percent preferred getting jobs in private companies in between conglomerates and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), while 10.9 percent said they would like to become public servants.

Of the total, 7.7 percent said they prefer getting jobs at foreign companies, while SMEs trailed behind at 6.8 percent, while 4.8 percent said they would like to work at financial companies. Last year, state-owned companies ranked No. 1.

The preference for conglomerates rose 4.3 percentage points from 18.7 percent, those that preferred state-owned companies dropped 5.2 percentage points from 25 percent.

The increased preference for work at conglomerates is largely due to higher salaries and a shorter workweek, which has been adopted since July last year.

In terms of expectations of where they saw themselves landing, 17.3 percent saw themselves at SMEs, while 15.4 percent said they would likely get jobs at companies between conglomerates and SMEs. Those expecting to land jobs at state-owned companies came in third, with 15 percent, while 14.8 percent expect to get jobs in conglomerates.

On average, young people were anticipating a starting annual salary of 34.9 million won ($29,100), which is 1.16 million won more than a year ago. Men wanted 35.9 million won as their starting salaries, while female students were aiming for a slightly lower starting salary, of 34.3 million won on average. Those hoping to get jobs at conglomerates aimed for a starting salary at 38 million won, while for SMEs it was 30.7 million won.

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]