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Investing in Youth: Korea

image of Investing in Youth: Korea

The series Investing in Youth builds on the expertise of the OECD on youth employment, social support and skills. It covers both OECD countries and key emerging economies. The report on Korea presents new results from a comprehensive analysis of the situation of young people in Korea, exploiting various sources of survey-based and administrative data. It provides a detailed assessment of education, employment and social policies in Korea from an international perspective, and offers tailored recommendations to help improve the school-to-work transition. Earlier reviews in the same series have looked at youth policies in Brazil (2014), Latvia and Tunisia (2015), Australia, Lithuania and Sweden (2016), Japan (2017), Norway (2018), and Finland and Peru (2019).

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Executive summary

A slowdown in economic growth is prolonging the transition from school to work for many young Koreans. The youth employment rate stands well below the OECD average and youth unemployment surpasses the OECD average since 2017. Rather than accepting a low-paid or temporary job in a highly segmented labour market, many young people prefer to continue investing in formal and informal education or spend a long time preparing for company entry exams. Korean youth are amongst the most educated and skilled in the OECD area, but the financial costs of education for the government and parents are high, as is the personal investment of young people in terms of time and energy devoted to studying. In addition, their skills do not always match labour market needs and many small and medium-sized enterprises struggle to fill positions as they are unable to offer the same working conditions as larger firms.

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