Saturday, September 29, 2007

Korea: Report on Coming Skills Shortages in Manufacturing Advises Industries To Make Better Use of Older Workers

According to a an article in The Hankyoreh, the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade (KIET) has announced findings on employment policies for aging workers in South Korea’s leading companies in manufacturing industry including steel, shipbuilding and automobile suggesting that with the workforce of the nation’s manufacturing industry rapidly aging, South Korea will soon be faced with a vacuum in the manufacturing industry similar to the one experienced by Japan when that nation’s baby boom generation retired en masse.

For example, at one steel company, as sales have increased for the past three years, the amount of employees has decreased 9.7% and in the process, the average age of employees has risen to 42.1 from 40.1. At a shipbuilder, the number of department managers rose almost 10 times from 1985 to 2005, but the number of deputy managers has been cut in half, but out of the total number of the company’s manufacturing employees, the ratio of those in their 50s has increased from 16.7% in 1999 to 31.6% in 2006.
[Choi Hee-seon of the KIET] advised industries to introduce a peak salary system, in which older workers would not be forced to retire as they are now, and would be given the option of continuing to be employed with a salary decrease that inversely corresponds to their increasing age. The current system forces retirement at age 58 and offers workers an increasing salary that directly corresponds to increases in age until retirement. Choi says that using the peak salary system would allow companies to make better use of older workers. He also advised improving the work process in order to increase the productivity of middle-aged and elderly workers.
Source: The Hankyoreh "As society ages, S. Korea could face vacuum in manufacturing" (September 21, 2007)

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