How should Korea manage its Korean youth crises? Korea is the country to suffer serious unemployment crisis of youth. According to OECD in 2016, Korean Youth employment ratio ranked fifth at the bottom. To help them, Korea needs to introduce youth policy that Europe and EU countries have been doing. Their attempts have been longer than Korea’s and have had positive effects on youth employment in those countries. In Korea, youth politics was first just discussed actively starting in 2018 but it still needs the attention of Korea’s youth. On September 3, Bucheon Youth Policy Council held the Youth Sympathy Academy. Kim Jong-jin, vice president of KLSI lectured on the subject of the characteristics of the Korean youth labor market and how Europeans execute the policy, which may be helpful to drive and enact practical policies in Korea.
The first characteristic of Korean youth labor market is instability. Korea Labour $ Society Institute (KLSI) shows the Korean temporary worker ratio stands at 43.6% of the labor market. The International Labour Organization (ILO) states that the Korean proportion of temporary employment is 21.7% in 2015. Increasing short-term and self-employment leads to working as special contract employment and freelancer. These types of work are disengaged from and not regulated by the social safety net. According to the KLSI, temporary worker’s social insurance application rate is only 37.8% compared to 98.9% of regular workers. They receive less insurance, retirement pay and paid vacations than regular workers.
The Second characteristic of Korean youth labor market is an increase in the number of platform workers. Platform work is new form of employment connected with the growth of IT. Platform workers meet customers through online customer service platforms. For example, food delivery services such as bamin (배민) and yogiyo (요기요) use applications to take order and deliver to customers. In this case, rider is platform worker working through online platform. Like this, freelancer have a large market platform called Kmong. This platform links customers to a freelancer who has expertise in areas such as design, programming, marketing and other various fields.
Platform workers are in between employees and self-employer. They are neither employees such as part-time or permanent employee nor self-employed. They are regarded as the dependent self-employed to work based on the platform. This means that platform workers are not treated as employees. Accordingly, Korea has been making a push to protect them and recently the Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor announced that the employment safety net will be widened to include platform workers who will be eligible for employment insurance and unemployment benefits.
The Third characteristic is severe problem of NEET. NEET is short of Not in Education, Employment or Training, referring to youth who are not looking for a job. According to OECD in 2015, the Korean percentage of higher educated NEETs is 42.5% compared to the 16.5%OECD average. Korean poor working conditions for youth accounts for this makes this shocking statistic. These youth experience repeated short-term part time employment and are looking for a job. It is safe to say, Korean an alarmingly high percentage of Korean youth remain outside the social safety net and experience periods of low pay and unstable employment and some of them become NEET to renounce any working or learning.
Youth policy targeting Korean NEET is very much needed as existing policies have not worked so far. Korean youth policy and the news media have been illuminating how many Koreans get jobs or lose their jobs. Not only employment and unemployment, but also Korean NEETs, part time worker and intern need a spotlight. ILO and OECD’s youth policy discussion, pay attention to NEET, new entering employee like intern and college graduates who takes difficulty in hard labor market condition.
As a representative policy, EU has Youth Guarantee. This policy is aimed at vulnerable youth and socially ruled out group first. In United Kingdom, they support 30 hours job mentoring program to students aged 15 to 16 who are in most danger stopping their studying in the middle. After being mentored, these youth answered that it makes them feel more confident and focused on their school life and exams. In France, there is community center for youth called “Mission Locale”. The center helps to youth understanding the importance of planning job seeking and each other’s job preference. In Paris, an average of 2,744 youth per month are using the center.
The type of Youth Guarantee is two. Firstly, they help student who nearly ends up education or training to get a job steadily. Second is making young NEET turn back to getting a job or learning. In Korea, these political supporting and legal protection have to be strong. In addition, the policy has to provide for a lot of NEET, part-time worker and other alienate youth. However, Korean youth organic law has not been enacted since May 2019 due to conservative partys’ opposition. Kim Jong-jin, vice president of KLSI noticed the Korean youth organic law is first step for youth policy saying, “Now government and national assembly has the time to answer to youth who plans their future as main social organizer” on May 10, 2019 in Kyunghyang Shinmun.