Studies record that only one out of ten fresh graduates found full employment in South Korea

Yuyi Rin, Jan. 22, 2019, 10:03 a.m.

Only one in 10 university students who are about to graduate have already landed a permanent job with full benefits, a survey suggests.

Employment portal Job Korea polled 974 students who are about to graduate last week and found that only 11 percent have landed permanent jobs already. Another 10 percent said they found part-time work or were employed as interns or temporary staff. The remaining 79 percent have no job to look forward to as graduation day approaches.

The findings show a marked decline from a similar poll three years ago. In January 2016, 17 percent of respondents had already found permanent jobs, while 22 percent found temporary jobs.

A Job Korea staffer said, "Due to the impact of the drawn-out economic slump, businesses appear less enthusiastic about hiring new graduates."

Gone are the days when a university degree was practically a passport into employment. Competition for jobs has become so fierce that graduates are forced to beef up on other skills.

The Education Ministry and Korean Educational Development Institute in a joint survey last year found that 66.2 percent of university students who graduated between August 2016 and February 2017 had found work by the end of 2017.

But only 35.3 percent or one in three managed to secure a job before graduation, while the rest had to spend more time after graduation.

It is also taking longer for graduates to find work. A survey by Statistics Korea last year of young people aged 15 to 29 showed it took an average of 10.7 months after graduation or dropping out of school before they found a job.

And graduates who found permanent jobs were not able to breathe a sigh of relief, because those who landed jobs in small or mid-sized businesses then immediately started looking for better jobs with bigger companies that pay better.

According to the Job Korea poll, 16 percent of respondents who already landed jobs said they plan to apply for jobs with major conglomerates this year, while 12 percent said they intend to apply for positions in state-run enterprises. That means one out of every four graduates who did find jobs actually want something they consider better.

Sung Tae-yoon at Yonsei University said, "It is difficult for workers at small and mid-sized companies or temporary staff to find permanent jobs in big conglomerates or state-run enterprises, so there is intense competition for them. The situation is even more serious in majors other than science or business."

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