The Korea Herald


[Editorial] Youth recruit quotas?

By 최남현

Published : July 27, 2011 - 19:03

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The June job figures showed that the employment rate of women in their 50s, which was at 59.3 percent, was higher than those of men in their 20s (58.5 percent) and women in their 20s (59.2 percent).

One commentary said the high rate of employment for women in their 50s cannot be welcomed wholeheartedly, adding that elderly women are driven into the job market as their sons and daughters have difficulty in landing jobs. It said many of them deserved to have a leisurely life after working hard to pay for their children’s university education.

That comment is undoubtedly an oversimplification. But it is true that it is difficult for youths to land jobs. The jobless rate of people aged 15 to 29 was at 7.6 percent, more than twice as high as the overall jobless rate of 3.3 percent.

The situation is much worse than the youth jobless rate may imply, given that those who are in school or have no desire to work are not counted among the jobless people in official statistics. In other words, many more people are not working than the rate indicates. The abovementioned rates of employment for young men and women are a better guide in this regard.

As such, creating jobs for youths is one of the most serious political issues. No wonder political parties are competing against each other with promises to create jobs for young people.

Nonetheless, the ruling Grand National Party is grossly misguided when it is moving to statutorily require corporations to set aside a certain portion of jobs for youths. The party’s policymaking committee had a closed session on a youth employment quota for corporations on Tuesday. Earlier, the Youido Institute, the party’s think tank, proposed a special law requiring corporations employing 100 or more to additionally put the number of youths equal to 2.5 percent of their workforce on their payrolls during the next five years.

The business community brushes the employment quota proposal aside as yet another example of populism. It also says an employment quota would infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed “freedom and creative initiative of enterprises and individuals in economic affairs.”

Indeed, business enterprises may expand or reduce their workforce based on their strategies to maximize profits. As one corporation executive reportedly commented, it would be a communist idea of employment to demand that corporations recruit young workers additionally to fill a statutory quota.