Amid risks over deteriorating market prospects, South Korean conglomerates and state-run firms have decided to expand the scale of new recruits this year.
According to industry sources, Hyundai Motor Group plans to hire more than 10,000 employees including interns and experienced managers, who will be given full-time, regular jobs later on.
If the nation's largest carmaker fulfills its pledge of offering regular positions to new hires who are partly contract-based workers, it will become the first South Korean conglomerate to recruit more than 10,000 regular workers a year. It is a part of the company's mid- and long-term strategy to employ about 36,000 by 2018 and 60,000 by 2020, they added. The company hired around 9,500 last year.
Hyundai Motor, the group's core business unit, will start its recruitment process in March, to be followed by its other affiliates.
SK Group also plans to hire 8,000 new employees, keeping the number of new recruits similar to that of last year. The country's third-largest conglomerate had planned to hire about 7,000 last year but expanded the number of new recruits to 8,000 after its chief Chey Tae-won returned to management in August.
"Even though we face difficulties due to economic recession, we are planning to maintain the number of new recruitments close to that of last year to match up with the government's plan to boost youth employment," said an SK official.
Samsung Group also reportedly plans to increase the number of new recruits from 14,000 last year. The proportion of regular jobs, however, has not been finalized, according to a Samsung official.
Companies appear to have made such unexpected but uplifting moves to shoulder problems involving growing youth unemployment, an industry watcher said. Calling it bold moves, he noted that companies may have decided to expand new recruitment as part of making future investments to tackle the sluggish market.
The moves came after the nation's youth unemployment rate hit a new record last month at 9.2 per cent. The overall unemployment rate also stood at 3.6 per cent, the highest in five years. The government has been calling on corporates to join efforts to tackle the rising unemployment rates, particularly among young job seekers.
State-run companies also plan to increase the number of new recruits this year. According to the Finance Ministry, 316 public corporations will hire a total of 18,518 employees, a 4.8 per cent increase from last year, relatively higher than previous years.
The increase in new positions at state firms was possible after they adopted a wage peak system, officials said. The new system adopted by all state-run companies and half of private firms last year, delays the mandatory retirement age in exchange for decreasing wages. The government believes that it could boost youth employment.