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Incheon Works to Tackle Unemployment

Unemployment, and youth unemployment in particular, has been a critical concern for the Korean government. In efforts to resolve the issue, the government has been allocating a large proportion of its budget to create more jobs and support the jobless population. Recently, the South Korean government proposed a KRW 3.9 trillion (USD 3.69 billion) supplementary budget aimed at creating new jobs for young people and nurturing promising industries such as IoT and AI along with SMEs in these sectors, in hopes that the youth unemployment rate will drop to below 8 percent by 2021.

Such efforts are also made on smaller scales. Aside from several nationwide programs and facilities that provide employment support, each province also designs and executes its own programs that better-target the local residents. While employment support centers in each region are producing substantial results, Incheon stands out as a region with well-established employment support and HR programs for its residents.


Located in the northwestern part of Korea, Incheon is the nation’s third most populous city. It is regarded as an international cosmopolitan city thanks to its world-class Incheon International Airport and strategic location bordering the capital city of Seoul. Incheon has been an active employer, along with its airport, employing approximately 60,000 employees. The outlook of the employment rate in Incheon is also optimistic as it plans to make renovations to the airport, which is expected to create 50,000 additional jobs by 2022. However, the airport is not the only reason that makes Incheon a leading city in terms of human resources.

Youth employment

Incheon has made major progress in reducing youth unemployment and revitalizing the employment sector. In fact, Incheon is the only province in South Korea that has seen a decrease in its youth unemployment rate. In the fourth quarter of 2017, Incheon’s youth employment rate was at 45.7 percent, a figure higher than that of Seoul or Busan. Including the figures from the first quarter of 2018, Incheon was ranked at the top in terms of youth employment for two consecutive quarters. On the back of its recent success, Incheon set a goal to reduce the average youth unemployment rate to a single-digit number by this year.

One of the many HR related programs that Incheon provides for its youth include “Jobs Incheon,” which is a coffee shop focused on providing employment related services. There, visitors can find job information, space for study groups, counseling and mentoring sessions for specific careers and help with writing resumes, all free of charge. Since the coffee shop’s opening in December 2017, it has proved to be an effective platform that is easily accessible to anyone in need of its services.

In addition, university career centers will be expanded to three universities from the current two, to provide more direct support for students and recent graduates. The centers have been in operation since 2016 with financial support from Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL) and Incheon City. Last year, a total of 529 students from the two universities were able to find employment through a program offered by the centers, impelling MOEL to label the program as “Excellent” for two consecutive years.

Furthermore, with aim to promote employment while ensuring continued services, the “Incheon Youth Project” was established to provide welfare for employed youth as well as financial support for SMEs employing the youth.

Elderly population

With the South Korea population ageing at a fast rate, HR support for the elderly population has become a crucial demand for the country’s economy. In 2012, Incheon launched a support program for seniors, which has since then grown to become the largest employment support and training program for this specific population in the country. The program hosts on average 220 sessions per year, with about 40,000 elderly job-seekers participating in the sessions.

Incheon’s Dong-gu has a KRW 6 million budget to provide employment for the elderly. The district will be able to offer jobs to 2,000 seniors this year, which would translate into a 15% employment rate for its elderly population of 13,000, making it a 50 percent increase from a year earlier. As Incheon’s largest job supplier for the elderly, Dong-gu carries out 21 different employment related projects for seniors and is planning to expand them even further.


Recognizing the need to support women facing discontinuity in their careers due to childbearing, Incheon has been increasingly hosting more programs to support them. Recently, the city held a job fair with over 100 participating companies, with 170 women being hired on-site. Additionally, Incheon will conduct a seminar and consultations on “Career Discontinuity Prevention” designed for women having difficulties in balancing work and motherhood.

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