Due to the severe economic depression caused by COVID-19, the job market contracted and made it even harder for young people to find work. The Ministry of Employment and Labor announced that only 42.2 percent of people aged 15 to 24 found jobs in 2020, which is 1.3 percent points lower than in 2019.
COVID-19 has brought about changes to the hiring system as well. In previous years, most companies undertook “public recruitment” which is recruiting employees on fixed months annually. Since the pandemic started, many have discontinued this practice. Some graduands fear that irregular recruitment may favor candidates with experience over those who have just graduated from college.
Not surprisingly, graduands of Ewha are also suffering from the tight job market. Many have decided to suspend their graduations, a full six percent of enrolled students in 2021 according to research by Higher Education in Korea. This figure marks an increase of 2.6 percent points from 2019. Even though they are eligible to graduate, students are opting to stay on as undergraduates rather than doing so without specific plans.
“There have been cases where students gave up while preparing for private companies’ public recruitment due to the lack of positions from the aftermath of COVID-19,” an anonymous student from the School of Business commented. “It has been especially harsh for entry-level applicants to start looking for jobs. Since spots for experienced applicants have also been scarce, these candidates have been applying for entry-level positions. There have been cases where students gave up while preparing for public recruitment for private companies due to these hardships.”
Additionally, she mentioned the postponement of certificate exams due to the pandemic. Considering the fact that the document screening process for public enterprises has given incentives to applicants with certificates, it has been difficult for uncertified students to apply to qualify for positions. She also noted that employment recruiting notices have been delayed throughout the pandemic.
She cites another reason for suspending her graduation: the benefits and a sense of belonging that only enrolled students can feel. School programs such as job consulting are restricted to students who graduated. Taking such restrictions into account, she decided to delay her graduation.
“If you postpone your graduation, the only difference from other enrolled students is that you are not required to take classes,” another anonymous senior student from the School of Business said. “It is possible to live in the dormitory, and there are no restrictions on the Central Library, ECC Library, and other school buildings. In addition, graduands who decide to suspend their graduation can participate in school events.”
Students suggested possible improvements that the school could make for the graduation postponement system. A senior student from the School of Business commented that school program advertisements need to be reinforced. She noted that the accessibility of school websites is remarkably low; therefore a guide service regarding the websites for lower grade students should be established.
Ewha Career Development Center(CDC) encourages students who seek job opportunities to check and prepare for the new recruitment process in detail.
“We hold programs teaching students effective ways to search information regarding irregular recruitments which also helps them establish competitive employment strategies,” CDC commented.
As companies hire a small number of competent workers, applicants’ job competency such as their prior work experiences work as a significant factor. Consequently, CDC emphasizes the need to deeply understand one’s occupation that he or she applies for.
“We provide programs such as mock AI job interviews for students to become familiar with AI recruitment.”
Most programs held by CDC are equally open to foreign students. CDC welcomes both Korean and international students to actively participate in its program to eventually achieve their dream jobs.