This study researches human resources policy for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by examining labor markets for SMEs and the importation of foreign labor force in Korea and Japan.
In general, SMEs in Korea and Japan are suppliers of affordable products. They share similarities in that they create job opportunities and contribute to local economies, while also experiencing more serious labor shortages compared to large companies, suffering from lack of capital and sluggish investment due to governmental growth strategies centering on large companies, and being situated in unstable economic conditions with high bankruptcy rates.
With regards to labor issues with SMEs, the government’s human resources policy is expected to change in along with industrial development, making it necessary for SMEs to take proactive measures. Unless they restructure to shift from labor-intensive production to knowledge- or technology-intensive production, their competitiveness will be lost, making their survival impossible. In particular, SMEs should prioritize knowledge and technology, rather than cheap labor, in order to increase their share of manufacturing in production. To help reduce the shortages of technological human resources experienced by SMEs, it is necessary to enhance their public image and advance into overseas markets, mainly in Southeast Asia.
Human resources Korea has a smaller share of employees working for SMEs in total human resources, compared to Japan. In Korea, the number of male workers employed by SMEs is declining, while female SME employees are increasing. As male workers have a generally lengthier educational background, with more attending to colleges, there is a slow inflow of male personnel into SMEs. However, a growing number of women are employed by SMEs, as they have greater opportunities to join the labor force as well as fewer burdens of child rearing due to low childbirth rates. Nevertheless, both Korea and Japan are expected to experience labor shortages for SMEs in the long term. The severity of labor shortage will be worse in Korea. In response, Japan enacted laws on maternity leave and introduced flexible working hours for female workers. Both countries are considering importing foreign labor to take advantage of overseas human resources.
Meanwhile, Korea has implemented the Industrial Trainee System in place as part of importing foreign labor, but the system has issues. In particular, the government’s intervention in addressing illegal employment and labor conditions is limited. In this regard, the government should enact law and designate the Ministry of Labor as the governing body that delegates the industrial trainee system to private companies. Given the success of the basic act on foreign labor in economically advanced countries such as Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore, Korea needs to establish legal institutions to successfully manage human resources policy.
중소기업 인력정책의 연구(Study on human resources policy for SMEs)
한 일간 비교를 중심으로(Comparison between South Korea and Japan)
|Series Title; No||정책연구시리즈 / 94-31|
|Subject Country||South Korea(Asia and Pacific)|
|Subject||Industry and Technology < Entrepreneurship
Social Development < Employment
|Holding||KDI; KDI School|