Human resources managers at a recent job fair hosted by subcontractors to Samsung Electronics and its five affiliates said young Koreans are reluctant to apply for jobs with them, and many new workers bolt shortly after getting hired.
The 120 Samsung subcontractors are considered the cream of the crop among small and mid-sized companies, but despite record youth unemployment they are struggling to find staff.
The Korea Federation of SMEs recently conducted a survey showing that employees at small and mid-sized companies work at one company for only 6.4 years on average, and 33.7 percent quit less than three years into the job.
HR managers say young jobseekers shun them because they are located outside Seoul. Many young people are only interested in working for major conglomerates or foreign companies.
One HR manager at a company that makes smartphone components said, "More than 50 percent of workers we want to hire don't show up for work simply because we're outside Seoul, and half of those who do only stick around for a year."
One semiconductor parts maker in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul hired 150 workers over the last three years, but 30 percent of them ended up quitting. The new hires often complained that they were unable to enjoy the same leisure activities as in the capital.
Companies in the often soulless industrial clusters outside of the capital are calling on the government to improve transportation and living conditions to make jobs there more attractive.
Suh Jae-yoon at the federation said, "Subway lines need to be extended, and we need more buses from Seoul to neighboring cities to get more people to apply for jobs at small and mid-sized companies."
Jobseekers look at a bulletin board at a job fair in Seoul on Nov. 12.