The president of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak, has encourages small and medium businesses in the country to recruit expatriate workers in order to close skills deficits.
According to the Korean Times, President Lee Myung-bak launched a proposal last week that aims to revise the current regulations determining the recruitment of expat workers. The proposal, which is distinctly aimed at making it easier for small and medium businesses to recruit foreigners, will increase the number of work visas available for foreigners through increasing quotas from 34,000 to 24,000, a raise of over 40%. It is anticipated that the majority of the additional expatriate resource will be allocated to manufacturing industries, where the lack of skilled employees is currently a serious issue. More jobs will also be available for foreigners in agricultural, livestock and fisheries industries.
There are currently 1.2 million expatriates within South Korea, representing 2% of the total population.
“Manpower shortages have become a common problem among SMEs. It is getting serious and we need to do something urgently,” Mr Myung-bak said, ”The first thing to do is to increase the quota of foreign workers who can legally work here.”
It appears that such moves are necessary in Korea, which has one the fastest aging societies in the world. Without increasing the population through allowing the input of foreign labor the country may face serious economic difficulties.
The president also discussed the difficulties recovering from the recent economic downturn that small enterprises are currently having. He urged big businesses to pursue “co-prosperity” with smaller ones, saying: “”Voluntary co-prosperity is important, and coercive one is meaningless.”
Presidential spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung commented on the President’s policies: “Stressing the role of SMEs for sustainable economic growth, the President called for efforts to find mutually beneficial solutions for both conglomerates and their affiliated smaller firms,” Kim told reporters.
“To this end, Lee said large firms should deal more sincerely with their smaller partners and be willing to straighten out inappropriate business practices to seek co-prosperity with them.”
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