Employment and Labor Minister Phang Ha-nam speaks on a plan of creating more part-time jobs at the press briefing room of the government complex in Seoul, Wednesday. / Yonhap
The government will create 16,500 part-time jobs in the public sector by 2017.
The Ministry of Employment and Labor announced Wednesday that it will establish 9,000 part-time jobs for state-run companies, 4,000 for civil servants and 3,500 for public school teachers by the end of 2017.
"We aim to hire 10 percent of new employees in state-run companies with part-time jobs by 2017. In terms of civil servants, 9 percent of new provincial civil servants will be hired as part-timers, while 6 percent of state civil servants will be … during the same period," said Lee Jae-heung, a director of the ministry, in a press briefing.
To guarantee their quality of life, the ministry said that it is considering offering pension benefits to the part-time civil servants at the same level as their permanent counterparts. It also plans to allow part-time public workers to hold other jobs if they want while they are off-duty.
Observers say that the ministry is pushing the plan in hopes of achieving the 70-percent employment rate President Park Geun-hye promised during her campaign for office.
Korea's employment rate among its economically active population, between the ages of 15 and 64, reached 63.9 percent in 2011, far lower than other advanced countries, such as Germany with 72.6 percent and the Netherlands with 74.9 percent, during the same period, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Samsung Group, the nation's biggest conglomerate, announced on the same day that it will hire 6,000 part-timers ― who will work four to six hours a day ― by January, helping boost the government's plan.
Samsung said that 20 affiliates of the group, including Samsung Electronics, Samsung Display, Samsung Heavy Industries, Samsung C&T and Samsung Engineering, will join the project, hiring part-timers for two-year contracts.
"We expect to diversify our human resources and inspire creativity in the organization with the employment. We will be happy to contribute to society by creating new jobs," said an official of the group.
However, not everyone welcomed the project. Unionists opposed the plan, saying it will produce "bad jobs" that are low-quality and insecure.
"Employment is not a matter of numbers, but a matter of quality of life. To solve the nation's notorious long working hours and low salaries, the government should cut the working hours, share jobs and improve quality of life with proper income," said the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, an umbrella organization of progressive unions, in a statement.