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Minister's speech at the 101st International Labour Conference

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6 June 2012 11:00am, Geneva Switzerland


Mr. President and distinguished delegates,

I’d like to share with you today a few key points related to the Korean government’s efforts to address structural problems within the labor market.

Employment issues have complex causes and thus need to be dealt with in a comprehensive and systematic way.

In this regard, the Korean government introduced “the 2020 National Employment Strategy” as a framework for macro-level long-term employment policies. And, in order to effectively implement the strategy, the government holds "the National Employment Strategy Meeting" led by the President. Also, the Minister of Employment and Labor chairs "Employment Policy Coordination Meetings" that involve relevant ministries and local governments. This is done in addition to holding the "Public-Private Forum on Job Creation" with major business organizations.

Under this policy framework and governance system, the President is taking the lead and both central and local governments are working in mutual cooperation.

Youth unemployment is indeed a common challenge that touches many countries around the world.

With an aim of creating a society that values a broad range of abilities more than academic credentials, the Korean government has been implementing the "Plan for Realizing an Open Employment Society" since last September.

As part of the plan, we are reshaping school curriculums to help students get the right skills required on the job. Meanwhile, we are facilitating the employment of high school graduates through close partnerships among schools, businesses and job centers. Also, we are encouraging young people to start up a business or create jobs with various supportive measures.

As a result, throughout Korean society, we are beginning to see a growing climate of valuing diverse ranges of abilities.

Mr. President and distinguished delegates,

The "gap among workers" must be addressed to realize social justice in the workplace. The Korean government is keen to address unfair discrimination against non-regular workers and to increase social safety nets for vulnerable groups.

First, the government provides subsidies for employment insurance and national pension contributions to low-income workers in small businesses. Also, the coverage of social insurances has been expanded. Now, self-employed people enjoy employment insurance benefits, and courier service personnel and express delivery servicemen can benefit from Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance.

On May 28th, the ILO held a historic election.

Before welcoming the newly elected Director-General, I’d like to express my deep appreciation to Director-General Somavia. Without his outstanding leadership, the ILO wouldn't have been able to achieve the visibility that it enjoys today. He made "decent work" an everyday word. It is clear that his strong and positive legacy will be carried on for many years to come.

Having said that, let me now congratulate Mr. Guy Ryder on his election. In framing the vision of the ILO, I'd like to draw a comparison between the ILO's principle of tripartism and a musical triangle. When employers, workers and governments put their heads together, they can resonate throughout society with clarity and distinct voice just as a triangle does. As you know, all three sides of the triangle are equal in length and width. Likewise, the voices of employers, workers and governments should be equally heard and put forth. I believe Mr. Ryder will lead the ILO in this way.

Mr. President and distinguished delegates,

An Eastern philosopher once said, "what worries the people more is not poverty but unfairness." Indeed, at the bottom of most problems is unfairness or extreme disparity. Without resolving them, we cannot move forward.

Therefore, we need to renew our efforts to create a sound business ecosystem where large and smaller companies, as well as primary contractors and subcontractors can live and grow together with maximum shared value. Likewise, we have to create a "symbiotic employment ecosystem" by eliminating the gap between workers in large companies and those in SMEs, between regular and non-regular workers, and between unionized and non-unionized workers.

In the same context, balanced international development is a prerequisite for shared prosperity and sustainable development of the global community. With a view to closing the gap between regions and nations, the Korean government plans to double the level of ODA in four years. Korea is ready and willing to share our experiences gained and lessons learned over the course of economic development. A report on Korea’s job-centered economic and social policy will soon be published by the ILO Employment Policy Department. I believe it will be a useful reference for many countries grappling with the common challenge of jobs.

Thank you.

Last Modifide Date   :   Mon June 11, 2012
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