The government on Thursday pledged to hire 12,000 new public-sector workers in the first half of the year but without saying where they are needed and how it will pay for them.
A presidential advisory committee and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said they plan to secure the necessary funding through a supplementary budget in June, but the main opposition party is against the plan.
The government said it will announce the new hiring quota next month and public service exams will be held in October. The government wants to hire around 1,500 new firefighters and an equal number of police officers, social workers and non-commissioned military officers as well as 3,000 more administrative workers.
The tests will be held on the same day to prevent candidates from applying for multiple jobs. But the plan raises the number of newly hired public servants this year to a record 60,000 even as student numbers in schools dwindle and automation reduces the need for desk jobs.
One academic said, “The plan was mooted during the election campaign and not based on a proper study. What has to come first is an accurate assessment of how many firefighters, police or administrative staff are really needed”.
The biggest problem is the budget. The opposition Liberty Korea Party, which opposes the plan, claims that hiring new government workers increases the tax burden and could end up prompting more young people to cram for public service exams instead of jobs where they are needed.
The government estimates it will cost around W3 billion simply to rent the test venues and first-year salaries alone will total W600 billion (US$1=W1,119).
Due to the power vacuum preceding the election of President Moon Jae-in, no specific hiring plans were announced at the beginning of the year, heightening confusion among both prospective jobseekers and crammers helping candidates prepare for the tests.
One 27-year-old who gave his name as Park and is preparing for the public service exam said, “It is good news that we have another opportunity to take the public service exam, but I hope concrete measures are announced soon so we can prepare properly”.