Six out of 10 young jobseekers want safe employment in public corporations or the civil service, according to a recent survey. The figure marks a whopping 2.5-fold increase compared to a similar survey in 2014, suggesting growing anxieties amid tough economic times and rapid automation of the workplace.
The Korea Employment Information Service and the Youth Hope Foundation commissioned a team of researchers at Sookmyung Women's University to poll 1,578 young jobseekers.
The results show that 37.9 percent favor work in state-run companies and 23.2 percent want to be civil servants, resulting in 61.1 percent favoring state employment. Only 33 percent want to work for the private sector, and perhaps surprisingly 17.9 percent of those would be happy to work for small and mid-sized companies. Earlier polls have tended to show a heavy bias in favor of big corporations.
"As employment prospects grow dimmer, young jobseekers appear to have set their sights lower," said Prof. Lee Young-min, who led the team.
The 2014 survey showed just one out of every four or 23.6 percent favoring public-sector employment. Among university students, however, only 31.6 percent want to work for the state, while 23.2 percent prefer big businesses.
Some 47.5 percent of jobseekers named salaries and benefits as the most important factor in job selection. They still favored public-sector jobs because wages there have nearly caught up with salaries in the private sector, not to mention the fact that they almost guarantee lifelong employment and generous pensions.
According to industry tracker by CEO Score, the average annual salary of public-sector workers stood at W66 million in 2016, compared to W74 million in the private sector (US$1=W1,140).