SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Korea Bizwire) – Faced with a desolate job market, the response from almost 750,000 young South Koreans has been to drop out of the race completely. In contrast, over 1 million are preparing themselves for better quality employment by studying for placement exams.
The number of NEET (not in education, employment or training) young adults (15 to 29) has fluctuated in prior years, dropping to 674,000 in 2013 from 839,000 in 2009. However, since then, the figures have crept back up, reaching 727,000 in 2016.
Going by these numbers, 7.1 percent of the entire young adult population were NEET last year.
While the proportion of high school and technical college grads declined in the NEET group, the percentage of young adults holding a degree from a four-year university rose from 18.5 percent in 2008 to 30.5 percent in 2016.
Meanwhile, the number of young adults preparing for placement exams for corporate, government, state-operated entity and media jobs went from 919,000 in 2008 (6.8 percent of young adult population) to 1.06 million in 2016 (10.3 percent).
Government jobs, which promise career stability, 9-to-6 working hours and competitive salaries, have become especially desired by young adults.
The increase in proportion of total young adults preparing for employment is particularly noticeable considering that in this time span, the total population of young adults shrank from 13.6 million to 12.8 million.
The percentage of young test takers between the ages of 20 to 24 increased from 39.3 percent to 43.7 percent from 2008 to 2016, while the group from 25 to 29 years old shrank, going from 56.8 percent to 50.7 percent.
The figures were derived by senior researcher Oh Ho-young from the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training.