S. Korean middle market enterprise federation chief calls for more high-quality jobs to overcome low fertility rate

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : March 18, 2024, 18:03 Updated : March 18, 2024, 20:15
Courtesy of the Federation of Middle Market Enterprises of Korea
FOMEK head Choi Jin-sik (left) shakes hands with PCASPP Vice Chairman Joo Hyung-hwan [Courtesy of the Federation of Middle Market Enterprises of Korea]

SEOUL -- Choi Jin-sik, the chairman of the Federation of Middle Market Enterprises of Korea (FOMEK), has urged South Korean companies to offer more high-quality jobs to tackle the current low fertility rate crisis. During a meeting with the vice chairman of the Presidential Committee of Aging Society and Population Policy (PCASPP), Choi pointed out that increasing such jobs, with higher incomes, could mitigate the crisis.

According to data released by South Korea's statistics office, the country’s fertility rate in 2024 was 0.72. Data from the Bank of Korea (BOK) indicates a 90 percent probability that the total population could decline to below 40 million by 2070 from the current 52 million without effective government interventions. The BOK estimated a 68 percent possibility of the growth rate falling below 0 percent between 2050 and 2059.

In dialogue with PCASPP's vice chairman Joo Hyung-hwan on March 15, Choi claimed that the increasing the number of middle market enterprises to 10,000 can create over 3 million high-quality jobs. "Mid-market firms account for only 1.3 percent (5,576) of the total number of companies in South Korea, but they contribute more than 10 percent of total sales and employment," Choi said, adding, "This makes them a key player in the nation's economy and society."

He has also emphasized the need for the work-life balance infrastructure for employees at mid-market companies. Choi said: "We urge mid-market enterprises to participate in allowing workers to achieve work-life balance through flexible workflow and to pursue marriage and parenthood without the burden of childcare and career disadvantages."

In a 2023 survey conducted by the Korea Employment Information Service, which involved 5,786 participants aged 15 and older, individuals in their teenage years as well as those in their 20s, 30s, and 40s all ranked work-life balance as their top priority when selecting a job. Despite the rapid economic development after the Korean War (1950~1953), South Korea is characterized by a work culture of long hours, subpar conditions, and dominance by conglomerates.
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