SEOUL, April 6 (Korea Bizwire) – Seeking stability amid stiff job competition and a prolonged economic downturn, the number of test takers for civil service jobs is skyrocketing.
In 2016, there were 257,000 young Koreans (aged 15 to 29) preparing for public service examinations, up by 38.9 percent from 185,000 in 2015, and accounting for 5.2 percent of all non-economically active youths in the country (4.98 million).
With a final pass rate of less than 2 percent, the exams are highly demanding, and the average prep period is eight months. But once accepted, one is almost always guaranteed employment until retirement, in addition to a stable pension and other social benefits and employee welfare.
However, a recent study by the Hyundai Research Institute revealed that these prospective public servants are costing the economy a whopping 17.1 trillion won ($15.2 billion) each year, once again highlighting the growing concern over youth unemployment and the lack of quality jobs available to young Koreans.
The HRI estimated that these test takers spend an average of 1.5 million won per month preparing for the exams, which includes education costs and living expenses, amounting to a total of 4.63 trillion won.
But the opportunity cost (for both consumption and production) incurred by the youths not participating in economic activities was far greater at 21.769 trillion won – resulting in a net value of 17.143 trillion won forfeited for the country. This was roughly 1.1 percent of South Korea’s nominal GDP in 2016.
“The increase in test takers is largely because there are a lack of ‘quality jobs’ available to them. South Korean society is solely to blame for this phenomenon,” said Joo Won, an HRI senior researcher.
“Having young talented workers devote themselves to exam preparation is a huge loss for the country,” he said. “Improving wage and employment conditions, and providing greater support for those disadvantaged in job competition seem essential.”
By Joseph Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)