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Korea to create 200,000 jobs for youth by 2017

The government unveiled Monday a plan to create more than 200,000 jobs for those aged between 15 and 34 by 2017 in collaboration with six major business associations.

The measures mapped out by five ministries, including the Finance Ministry and Labor Ministry, came amid concerns about high youth unemployment.

The number of jobless people in their 20s reached 410,000 in the first half of this year, an all-time high since the state statistical office began to tally the figures in 2000.

Business leaders also expressed their will to closely support the state-led employment policy by signing on the scheme during their meeting with government officials at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Seoul.

Among the participants were Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan, Employment and Labor Minister Lee Ki-kwon, Federation of Korean Industries chairman Huh Chang-soo and KCCI chairman Park Yong-maan.

The employment target will include 53,000 regular jobs in the public sector and 35,000 in the private sector, along with the 125,000 apprenticeship or internship offerings in the private sector.

Regarding public sector employment for young jobseekers, the government said it has decided to increase the number of outgoing teachers under the voluntary redundancy programs from the current level of 5,500 per annum to 7,500 in 2015, 9,500 in 2016 and 11,500 in 2017.

“The early retirement plan would provide the government with the capacity to select about 15,000 young teachers (over the next two years),” said the ministries in a news briefing.

Policymakers also plan to expand the comprehensive nursing services in a bid to secure manpower up to 10,000 by 2017.

In addition, the government will increase jobs for the youth with the budget saved through the introduction of the wage peak system in state-controlled agencies and public firms ― whereby the paycheck for elderly workers will be slashed by about 10 percent over their last few years at work.

To promote active job creation in the private sector, the Finance Ministry plans to offer extra tax benefits to enterprises that hire more young jobseekers compared to the previous year.

The current benefit of tax deduction ― when companies convert nonregular jobs to regular positions ― worth 2 million won ($1,700) per employee will be extended from end-2015 to 2017.

Further, the government is scheduled to offer 10.8 million won per new employee per annum over the next two years to companies that increase the number of young workers via the wage peak system.

The apprenticeship or internship program will be expanded to small and medium-sized enterprises, from the present conglomerates and public sector.

Companies that convert internships to regular jobs after a three-month apprenticeship can also avail of the government support measures, said officials.

As of April 2015, those unemployed in their 20s and 30s with no prior experience numbered 89,000 and 6,000, respectively, according to Statistics Korea.

The collective figure of 95,000 was the highest in 147 months after it peaked at 97,000 in January 2003.

By Kim Yon-se (