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[Newsmaker] Samsung nixes hiring plan after backlash

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Published : 2014-01-28 20:06
Updated : 2014-01-28 20:06

Job seekers leave a high school in Seoul after taking Samsung’s entrance exam in October 2013. (Yonhap)

Samsung Group, South Korea’s largest conglomerate, said Tuesday it would scrap its heavily criticized plan to introduce a new recruitment path that favors top-tier universities in Seoul.

The new hiring method proposed by the country’s most preferred workplace would have allowed universities to recommend students as prospective applicants. Its purpose was to hire students with a wide variety of skills that are not demonstrated by traditional qualifications like English scores.

The plan came under fire largely because the university recommendation quotas were unequally allocated. Some suspected the new plan would create a new university ranking system based on the number of candidates they can recommend to Samsung.

“There were unexpected controversies about the supposed university rankings and regional discrimination,” said Rhee In-yong, president of the corporate communications team at Samsung Group. “Under the circumstances, we decided it would be difficult for us to operate the new system.”

Rhee said that Samsung would also postpone all the additional changes to the recruitment system that had been planned for this year. He added that the company would push to revamp its recruitment system and specialized entrance exam, the Samsung Aptitude Test or SSAT.

Earlier this month, Samsung announced it would overhaul its recruiting system to reduce unnecessary social costs related to the SSAT. Samsung initially allowed everyone meeting the minimum qualification to take the test without prior resume screening.

Last year, around 200,000 people took the test, putting a considerable financial burden on the company and the applicants.

The new plan would have had each school pick students who could bypass the screening process that precedes the SSAT. This would likely have reduced the number of people taking the test, with universities filtering out less-qualified applicants.

The plan, however, sparked criticism after media reported last week that each university was allocated a different number of recommendations.

There were talks about how some schools, such as Ewha Womans University, were allowed far too few spots compared to other universities of similar stature.

Others even suspected regional discrimination, pointing out that universities in the Jeolla provinces were allowed far fewer recommendations than those in the Gyeongsang provinces.

Samsung said the recommendation quotas for each university were assigned strictly in relation to how many of the schools’ graduates were hired by Samsung last year, but the public criticism continued.

On Tuesday, the student council of Korea University publicly opposed the plan.
“We cannot accept a system that forces universities to be swayed by a certain company,” it said in an official statement. “Our university was given higher quota than most others. Thank you, but we respectfully decline this kind of recommendation and will keep our pride as intellectuals.”

By Yoon Min-sik (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)

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