1 in 4 young Korean graduates not in work or education: report

One in four young Koreans with a bachelor's degree is not pursuing education, employment or training, the third highest rate among OECD members, a report showed Sunday.

According to the National Assembly Research Service's interim report on education, 24.4 per cent of those aged 15-29 who held bachelor's degree in Korea as of 2012 were grouped as "NEET," referring to those who are not pursuing any official educational or employment activities.

This was double the OECD average of 12.9 per cent and the third highest after Greece (39.2 per cent) and Turkey (24.5 per cent).

Comparatively, only 5.1 per cent of middle-school graduates and 22.9 per cent of high-school graduates were classed as NEET.

The report said that Korea tended to show higher NEET ratio among those with higher educational backgrounds, whereas other similar countries tended to show a high NEET rate among those with less education.

In France for instance, the NEET ratio by education level is 19.0 per cent (middle school graduates), 17.6 per cent (high school graduates) and 11.0 per cent (college graduates).

The report suspected that many Korean NEETs have not given up on looking for jobs but are studying in nonregular education institutions such as national examination academies to find better jobs.

"The reason Korea shows higher number of college graduates in NEET groups is that the well-educated young people tend to seek quality jobs by lengthening their job-hunting time," report head Lee Man-woo said. The NEET numbers also include those preparing for state-run tests such as for public servants and bar exams.

Overall, 18.5 per cent of Koreans aged between 15 and 29 (regardless of education level) were NEETs, coming in at 8th after Turkey (31.3 per cent), Greece (28.5 per cent), Spain (26.8 per cent), Italy (26.1 per cent), Mexico (22.3 per cent), Hungary (20.5 per cent) and Slovakia (19.1 per cent).

The report divided the NEET into two -- those without jobs who are looking for employment and those who are economically inactive and are not seeking jobs. In case of Korea, over 80 per cent of the NEET people belonged to the latter group, much higher than the OECD average of 54.4 per cent, it added.