Woori hires high school graduates
By Kim Tong-hyung
Korea’s alarming unemployment figures for young people show that school leavers and graduates are bearing the brunt of the economic downturn. Woori Bank says it’s determined to do something about it.
The lender, which competes closely with KB Kookmin Bank for the title of Korea’s largest commercial lender, has been adding an increasing number of high school graduates to its workforce over recent months, a meaningful gesture in a country facing a rising fears of an entire generation lost to joblessness.
Woori hired more than 200 high school graduates as bank tellers following a large-scale job fair for teenagers it organized last month. The bank hired more than 80 high school graduates last year.
They will be placed in different departments after a five-year job training period, a Woori official said. While they will be initially hired as non-regular workers, they will be provided with the opportunity to gain permanent status after their first two years in the company. The bank will also finance part of their tuition and education expenses should they opt to enroll at universities or colleges.
``Most of the people we hired out of high school last year have been highly rated by company officials for their diligence and ability to adjust to different situations,’’ said Kim Gwang-seob, an official from Woori Bank’s human resources department.
``We have assigned a mentor to each of the high school graduates we hired to help them cope with life as a professional and adjust to the speed of work. This is just part of our wealth of effort to help them succeed as Woori Bank employees. We will hire more of these people, especially from vocational high schools, and explore new opportunities on how Korean companies can take better advantage of the glut of workers coming out of high schools.’’
The official unemployment rate was put at 3.5 percent in April, representing the second consecutive month of decline after hitting an 11-month high of 4.2 percent in February.
However, the jobless rate for people between the ages of 15 and 29 rose to 8.5 percent last month, sustaining an upward trajectory that began in November last year. More than 60 percent of the new positions created in recent months have been going to people in their 40s, 50s and 60s, suggesting that the employment data has been padded by low-paid, casual jobs.
Aside from high school students, Woori Bank is taking a closer look at providing job opportunities for the physically disabled, part of the community who are frequently sidelined from the labor market. The bank signed a partnership pact with the Korea Employment Promotion Agency for the Disabled (KEAD) Tuesday and announced it plans to hire 30 physically-disabled people this year.
``We hope to provide a successful role model for integrating disabled people into an integral part of the corporate workforce,’’ Woori Bank CEO Lee Soon-woo said.