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Conglomerates hesitant to hire

Most large companies plan to employ fewer than 100 workers

Feb. 8, 2024 - 17:09 By Shim Woo-hyun
People are waiting for consultations at a local job center in Seoul. (Yonhap)

South Korean conglomerates are becoming more reluctant to finalize their hiring plans this year or downsize the number of new employees as their business prospects are shrouded in uncertainty, a poll on job recruiters showed on Thursday.

Some 67 percent of conglomerates with over 1,000 employees confirmed that they have recruitment plans this year, falling for the third year in a row from 72 percent and 73 percent in 2023 and 2022, respectively, according to a report by online job portal Incruit.

Incruit surveyed 88 conglomerates, 134 mid-sized with 300-999 employees and 488 small-sized companies with less than 300 workers between Jan. 22-30.

Many have also not confirmed their hiring plans yet, the report added. Of the 710 companies that participated in the survey, 41.4 percent said they had finalized their hiring plans, while 29.9 percent said they had not decided on their recruitment plans.

“Incruit was able to confirm that companies are taking very conservative approaches to their hiring plans,” Incruit CEO Seo Mi-young said.

The size of conglomerates' recruitments is expected to shrink this year.

Of the 88 conglomerates, only 3.8 percent said they would hire more than 100 new employees. The proportion of conglomerates that will hire between 10-99 came to 67.3 percent, down by around 10 percentage points from a year ago. The conglomerates which said they would hire less than 10 new employees reached 28.8 percent as well.

In 2024, the overall proportion of companies with annual hiring plans also went down. This year, 71.3 percent of 710 companies that participated in the survey said they plan to hire new employees this year, dropping significantly from last year, when the corresponding number reached 79.3, after recovering from 51.9 percent in 2022.

Of the 710 companies that participated in the survey, 65.6 percent said they would hire less than 10 people this year, while 33 percent said they would hire between 10-99. Only 1.4 percent of the total said they would hire more than 100.

Mid and small-sized companies have downsized their hiring this year too, according to the report. The report said 73.9 percent of the 134 mid-sized companies and 71.3 percent of 488 small-sized companies have finalized hiring plans for this year, but the figures are both down from 75.5 percent and 81.3 percent a year ago.

Small-sized companies, in particular, may also face difficulties in securing new employees. “Small-sized companies may continue to face difficulties in hiring new employees as young people tend to prefer jobs at conglomerates,” an industry source said.