SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea decided Wednesday to increase the quota of foreign workers with non-professional employment visas for this year by 10,000 to alleviate pandemic-induced labor shortages in shipbuilding and other major industries, officials said.
The government committee on foreign workforce policy finalized the plan to issue the E-9 visa to a total of 69,000 foreign workers this year, up from an initial quota of 59,000, according to the Office for Government Policy Coordination.
The decision was made as the industries relying on immigrant workers have been experiencing labor shortages over the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent heightened border controls.
The number of foreign workers expected to stay here as of the end of this year came to 264,000, with the comparable figure for end-2019 standing at 277,000.
Facing labor shortages, the government has been speeding up the entry process for immigrant workers and streamlining due administrative procedures for their employers.
The government decided to assign 90 percent of the newcomers to manufacturing industries, agricultural-livestock sectors and construction fields in accordance with its due regulations, while sending the remainder to fields that particularly suffer manpower shortages.
As of June, the shipbuilding industry had been short 4,800 workers, basic manufacturing industry 27,000, food and small businesses 14,200, and taxi and bus companies 2,300 workers, according to the labor ministry.