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Korea to welcome more foreign workers in 2012

2012/01/14 | 463 views |  | Permalink | Source

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Over 800 people, including foreign workers from 20 countries, their families, and local volunteers attended a soccer tournament in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province in October (Photo: Yonhap News).

This year, the Korean government will issue work visas to 57,000 foreign workers, 9,000 more than last year.

The Ministry of Labor (MOL) released its 2012 policy plan for foreign labor on December 29, setting the new quota for E-9 non-professional employment visas at 57,000 and maintaining last year's quota for H-2 working holiday visas of 34,000.

According to the ministry, the decision to raise the foreign workforce quota was based on a consideration of various factors, including increased labor demands in various sectors, a rise in illegal immigration, and the shortage that will be created by the impending expiration of visas for approximately 67,000 workers this year.

The policy plan specifies that 11,000 places in the quota will be set aside for previous permit-holders, selected for their exemplary work ethic, their skills and expertise, or their passing of a Korean language qualification exam. These 11,000 workers will also receive priority processing in order to ensure smooth re-entry into Korea following their return to their home countries.

The manufacturing sector, currently facing shortages in labor, has the highest quota for 2012 at 49,000 people, an increase of 9,000. The next highest quotas are 4,500 for the agriculture and livestock industry and 1,750 for the fisheries industry. Additionally, sectors with lower supplies of labor, including the outlying manufacturing sectors, will be allowed to receive 20% more workers than stipulated by the previous maximum employment limit.

The quota for H-2 visa holders this year, as with last year, has been set at 33,000 people, in order to ensure that employment opportunities are available in the construction, food, and hospitality industries for local workers, who are typically concentrated in the lowest socioeconomic groups.

The Minister of Labor also announced that efforts to encourage the growth of the labor supply for small- and medium-sized businesses will be accompanied by efforts to create and protect job opportunities for local youths and middle-aged workers, in order to prevent an employment mismatch effect.

Furthermore, following monitoring of the labor market and the pace of economic recovery in the first half of the year, the government will consider the possibility of adding more new workers during the third quarter.

By Kwon Jungyun Staff Writer

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