South Korea will concentrate all of its available resources on helping create new jobs for young people who find it really hard to get hired, the top economic policymaker said Wednesday.
The country remains dogged by high youth unemployment. In August, the jobless rate for people between the ages of 15 and 29 hit 8 percent, much higher than the headline rate of 3.4 percent.
Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan said the government will make full use of its budget and taxation policies to help create employment opportunities.
"Creating good, regular jobs for young people is a core policy goal of the government," the minister said in a welcoming speech at a youth job fair in Daegu, 302 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
Choi, who doubles as deputy prime minister in charge of economic policies, said the society as a whole must do its part to improve employment for young people.
The minister praised a recent landmark deal on the country's labor reform, expressing hope that it could contribute to creating more jobs down the road.
"More regular jobs can be created only by fundamentally revamping the labor market, setting up a wage peak system and giving more freedom related to the hiring and firing of workers," he said.
Last week, labor, management and government representatives reached the agreement that would make it easier to lay off underperforming workers and give companies greater leeway to change the rules of employment.
At present, the country's labor laws effectively restrict the firing of workers unless the company is facing extreme difficulties.
The wage peak system advocated by the government calls for people nearing retirement age to accept lower wages with the money saved by this arrangement to be used to hire new employees.
Choi said the government will do its part to strengthen the social security net so that people who are laid off from work can find employment in other jobs.
The minister, meanwhile, said nowhere is unemployment among young people a key concern more than in Daegu, which does not have head offices of conglomerates or make big-name manufactured goods like autos and ships.
Since 1995, about 20,000 people have been leaving the city every year to find employment elsewhere, he said, stressing that the city and its inhabitants must join forces to create work for young people to tackle the issue. (Yonhap)