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Jean-Luc Schneider, Deputy Director of the Policy Studies Branch at the Economics Department of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said that the Korean government will reach its goal of a 70 percent employment rate in five years, adding that Germany and the Netherlands have had similar experiences.
He also noted that there are tools proven by other OECD countries to increase employment rate. They are public child care, which raises the participation rate of the female labor force, and part-time jobs, which increase employment of the younger generation.
Schneider also pointed out problems in the Korean labor market. Working hours are long but the employment rate is low, and there is a dualistic system that discriminates between regular workers and temporary workers in terms of the social protection system or workers’ rights.
He noted that Korea needs to consider the policies of Northern European countries, including Sweden and Norway, where the women’s labor market participation rate and employment rate are high. He emphasized the need for sound part-time jobs and childcare services.
Instead of a lifetime workplace, the labor market must be facilitated for higher efficiency so that everyone can find a job and receive unemployment benefits when they do not have jobs. Reaching flexecurity, which ensures high flexibility in the labor market and a sound social safety net, has to be the goal of the Korean government.
Raymond Torres, Director for the International Institute for Labour Studies of the International Labour Organization also, analyzed that the Korean government is going in the right direction with more part-time jobs to reach its goal of a 70 percent employment rate.
Torres noted that Germany improved its employment rate dramatically in a short period of time. However, the Germany economy was growing rapidly at that time. He explained that Korea must examine its vulnerability to the external environment, economic soundness, policy effects and corporate participation.
The director said that it is important to eliminate discrimination between part-time and regular workers regarding rights, income and social protection, adding that the Korean governments’ regulations have to be consistent for a stable system.
Austria, the Netherlands and Canada’s employment policies are some examples Korea can refer to.
Torres noted that these countries have a strong child care system, which helps citizens maintain an optimal balance between work and family and have a sound social safety net. The younger generation can also acquire techniques needed by the labor market through the education system, according to Torres.
Deputy Director Schneider and Director Torres attended an international conference to discuss strategies to reach a 70 percent employment rate in Seoul last week.
Source: Yonhap News (July 4, 2013)
** This article was translated from the Korean.