It was found that the portion of specialized human resources is very small and is lopsided toward the foreign language study sector in spite of an increase in foreign workers staying in Korea.
According to a report titled “Research on Test of Introduction of Foreign Workers in Labor Market,” which the Hyundai Research Institute submitted to the Ministry of Justice on March 28, foreign workers who came to Korea with work visas totaled 629,671 at the end of November last year.
Among them, foreign workers in seven specialized sectors numbered 49,001, accounting for 7.8 percent of the total. The seven sectors are professors, foreign language teachers, researchers, technological advisors, professionals, artists and entertainers and other specific activities. In particular, 33.4 percent of foreign specialists to Korea visited Korea with E-2 Visas for foreign language teachers, showing that they were lopsided toward a specific sector. The percentages of professors (5.4%), researchers (6.4%), technical advisors (0.4%) and professionals (1.3%) were dwarfed by foreign language teachers.
Among Korean companies employing foreign laborers, those in the educational service sector ranked second with a 10.7 percent share after the manufacturing industry (76.2 percent). The fact indicates that the demand for specialized foreign human resources was created largely by the foreign language sector such as foreign language institutes.
Poor supports for specialized foreign human resources impede their long stays in Korea, the report says. A survey of 115 foreign specialists staying in Korea in late 2014 conducted by the Hyundai Research Institute, they answered that they felt difficulties mainly in work-life balance, language, access to food and education of their kids in Korea.
In the case of unspecialized foreign human resources whose quotas are decided by the government in consideration of workforce shortages by business sector, they have been on a steady rise but the distribution of them was not properly implemented according to the report.
A labor scarcity in the manufacturing sector rose to 135,668 in 2014 from 120,119 in 2006. The figure swelled to 90,037 in 2010 from 62,333 in 2006. The economic slump lowered the number a little but the number is still 63985 at a high level.
“In particular, small and medium-sized Korean manufacturers are complaining a severe shortage of manual laborers. The current Work Permit System also is not properly working since annual quota and distribution by industrial sector are regulated,” the Hyundai Research Institute says. “The system is subject to quota by sector, failing to respond to industries suffering from a labor shortage. The system cannot consider workforces by job type and skill level.”
“The Korean foreign worker introduction system ought to cut down the cases of inviting unskilled workers in droves and using them for a short term, through a switch to a general policy to make the most of foreign human resources,” the research institute said