• Updated : 2022.1.3 월 13:37
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Youth Spaces: New Hubs for the Young Generation to Find Jobs
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승인 2021.11.19  11:22:21
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Young people in their 20s and 30s have been spending a great deal of time getting a job that they desire, and some of them have often been frustrated with a tough hiring market while preparing for jobs for many years after graduation. According to Statistics Korea, as of September 2021, employment to population ratio for Gwangju is about 58 percent and the number of employees is about 749,000, which is down 2,000 from a year ago. As this statistic shows, companies have still not increased the number of new hires and job seekers are having difficulty with the deteriorating economic situation. Moreover, employment preparation is not an easy process with which they are able to deal with by themselves without other’s help.

Even under difficult circumstances, however, young people have still made an effort to find occupations suitable for themselves by improving their competency with job skills such as getting a license, doing internships, and doing whatever else they need for jobs. There are many facilities that offer a variety of programs for young job seekers across the country. They can get practical assistance for their career and employment by using these spaces. The Chonnam Tribune introduces several job supporting places in Gwangju, which help the youth prepare for successful employment and startups.

University Job Plus Center

The University Job Plus Center, which is run based on support from the Ministry of Employment and Labor and Gwangju Metropolitan City, mainly operates a variety of programs for young people in the region. The center at Chonnam National University (CNU) provides resources to enable the youth to find jobs through youth career and job support services such as AI job interviews and recommendations for companies’ recruitment. They can be categorized into three parts which are career, employment capacity building, and collaboration programs with the local government. Advanced reservation is required to participate in most programs, but some activities such as a counseling café program for careers and mental health care are available without a reservation. The café program is held every 3rd Tuesday until the end of November in Bluepot on the first floor of the CNU Main Library. Senior Consultant Kim Yeon-jin said, “I think students hesitated to take part in the program because they think they should be prepared in some degree to join the program. I hope they enjoy the program more freely without pressure.”

   
 

Among the diverse programs at the center, one-on-one career counseling is the most popular with students since they can get appropriate advice for each individual. The counselors of the center make corrections to applicants’ cover letters and conduct mock job interviews with them. Lim Myung-seop (Graduate, ’10, Dept. of Agricultural Economics) who received the center’s help while preparing for a job said, “I joined three programs organized by this center, and one-on-one counseling is the most recommended since you can get useful and practical information from the consultants. When your job interview date is scheduled, it would be better to prepare interview questions beforehand and get feedback from them. Because of this program, I got confidence which made up for my insufficient parts.” The counseling reservation is available on the first and third Wednesday morning and now almost all counseling is offered through Zoom. Lim also mentioned that the ‘Employment Ace’ program was very helpful to set up the direction to prepare for getting a job because invited experts taught details about job hunting, even though the two-day program was quite short for him.

The center has carried out other projects to support young people including university students who are searching for work. Kim said, “We are planning to hold a job fair for coaching how to write a portfolio based on one’s experience and so on.” She also talked about their hopes. “Although we are trying to do our best to gather as many services into the campus as possible, it would be nice if more students visit this job center and participate in our programs actively.” It is now located on the first floor of the College of Education 1 building, but it is scheduled to move to the Student Union 1 building in December. If you want to get job related information, you can search ‘cnu_job’ on Instagram or add its KaKao Talk channel.

   
 

Gwangju Buk-gu Youth Center

Gwangju Buk-gu Youth Center is a platform for the young generation in the district, which aims to support youth activities such as employment and urban restoration. The district office of Buk-gu manages the center located near the Main Gate of CNU. With the name of “Cheogchun-eelang” (with being young), it provides varied opportunities to attend job-related activities including choosing a career path, counseling and cover letter consulting. Career counseling and AI&VR simulated job interviews are the most attractive programs among young applicants and it provides a space for young people as well. There are multiple rooms including a shared kitchen, a book café, a media room and a seminar room, which is the most used for young people as a space for job study or preparation for a job interview. The community space is available for free and is only for groups, at least 50 percent of which should consist of young people who live in the district.

   
 

Kim Myoung-ji, one of the staff members of the youth center, introduces local job opportunities. “Since the center is run by the district office, it collaborates with organizations in the region to offer more jobs, such as the Gwangju Institute of Design Promotion and the Regional Employment Policy Institute.” Kim also revealed the future plan of the center. “We plan to progress young applicants- friendly and field-centered programs like a career taro as outreach services.”The youth center also operates diverse programs that are available to a wide range of the district citizens from college students to office workers. Two programs are famous; a social dining program is in high demand from single-person household office workers, and a healing program is well liked throughout the young generation. If you want to enjoy relaxing activities while finding the right jobs, those programs will be perfect for you. The social dining program proceeds with young chefs through non-contact meetings. A number of one-person households often skip meals or eat a very simple meal, but, through this program, they can cook together and communicate with each other. Participants get a cooking box a day before the class and then join the program with the box. A making kimchi class is scheduled for this month. The youth healing workshop, cooperated with the local youth handicraft studios, helps young people release stress through making things including desserts and rattan products, aiming at developing the regional youth handicraft studios as well. The majority of participants in the workshop are mostly people who want to communicate in small groups or people who experience isolation or depression.

   
 

Gwangju Citizen’s Hall

Gwangju Citizen’s Hall is a specialized youth space for people who have found their own business. It is operated by a private company, Urban & Culture Group CS Inc., through contracting-out with Gwangju city. The hall carries out diverse programs, and ‘Local Startup School’ is the main project this year. This eight-week school program consists of lectures from experts and successful businesspeople, which offer the knowledge and practical skills such as business tax and marketing to youth startups in the hall, and also to preparatory entrepreneurs. Furthermore, one-on-one matching happens between a young founder and an adviser if they want to. The center’s affiliated startups are 26 teams that can be classified into five categories including F&B, media, culture and makers.

Now seven teams reside in the hall and others are outside the hall, which provides spaces for founders who want a place for their business for free. If anyone makes an advanced reservation for places including a shared office and a small concert hall on its second floor, they are available for free too. Noh Eun-jin, CEO of café DDADAM in the F&B category said, “I joined this place on May 3 without paying any cost and got the lectures about accounting, marketing and taxes, and also received funding support. It helps out a lot.”

The hall supports startups which are related to Gwangju like a production company that makes content about the city. Its application is available to companies which have their current address in Gwangju. Noh mentioned that she tried to use locally grown fruits in Gwangju and Jeonnam regions and added, “Since the citizen’s hall holds various cultural events on the weekends associated with Gwangju, many citizens drop by here on the weekends.” Heo Hui-young, the team leader of Gwangju Citizen’s Hall, said, “It was hard to manage workshops last year due to COVID-19, but we are planning to hold a flea market with the youth founders in this place. We also hold various events and cultural festivals on weekends. I hope many people visit and enjoy this place since it is run by citizens’ tax.”

   
 

How to Choose the Right Opportunity

Some people may give up on employment due to barriers they are facing in getting the right job. It was reported last month that as of 2020, 219,188 young people gave up job searching, according to the Korea Economic Research Institute. There is no doubt that high youth unemployment continues and regular jobs are disappearing. Nevertheless, we should not deprive ourselves of opportunities and possibilities for finding jobs that meet our expectations. It is also possible to start a business with little money. Kim Ga-yeon, a CEO of RAU, which is a cultural planning company located in Gwangju, pointed out that people who start their own business do not have to focus on preparing their office space. She said, “In recent years, young people use SNS platforms and do online marketing to promote their products, instead of setting up an office for business. It is so convenient that sellers can communicate effectively with their customers. If founders need an office, they can borrow a studio for several days or use a room proxy service as storage. An office is not a critical item for founding a company anymore.”

Consequently, young people need to make use of various resources and assistance provided by institutions including central and local governments as well as universities in order to enhance their capabilities and develop skills for jobs from now on without being seized by the routes that existed before. We can find a lot of other places to support the youth who are endeavoring for their jobs in the city of Gwangju, aside from the abovementioned three ones. However, it is important to choose support services and resources appropriate to the needs of young job seekers and pre-entrepreneurs based on their individual level of preparation. It will definitely be worth a shot to try it. If you keep pioneering your own career path while receiving this support, you could get desirable jobs and reach the bright future you have really dreamed about eventually.

By Jo Ye-rin, Student Editor

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