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How many foreign employees are in Korea?
Date : 2014-04-08

How many foreign employees are in Korea?
Guk-Young Jin(Global Business Group Vice-president)
Careercare Newsletter(April, 2014)

Do you know how many foreign residents are in Korea? As of 2007, foreigners in Korea numbered over one million and by the end of 2011, the number stood at 1.4 million. The steady increase in the number of foreigners is mainly due to the fact that Korean companies have been attempting to recruit a lot of foreign employees from abroad.

In particular, overseas Koreans make up 9.4% of the total number of foreigners living in Korea. Many Koreans migrated abroad in the 1970s and 80s, but many of them have returned. The 1.5 or 2nd generation overseas Koreans, whose parents migrated abroad in the 1970s and 80s, possess strong educational background and have a high level of expertise. Also, they have greatly contributed to the growth of global companies, government service and public institutions around the world. They are one of the primary target groups that Korean companies approach for recruitment.

The Global Business Unit at Careercare receives a lot of questions about hiring foreigners. People would like to know how the global talent market has changed and where Korean companies stand in the global war for talent.

Faced with global competition, Korean companies are scrambling to attract and retain top talents from abroad. Most corporate recruiting teams are active in trying to attract talents from abroad. They organize on-site campus recruiting fairs at top tier universities around the world. In general, hiring top talent is regarded as one of the most important roles for Korean companies. Government support for foreigners is also attractive. Now, professionals such as professors, researchers, and skillful engineers, etc. may simply apply for a work permit visa through an online system. Also, highly-skilled engineers are eligible for a tax relief of up to 2 years in accordance with the Korean tax law.

On the other hand, hiring standards from Korean companies have also risen. They evaluate a candidate’s educational background, career experience, expertise, personality and reputation more strictly. Despite this circumstance, the job openings for foreigners are growing at major Korean companies. They are also expanding from specialty fields such as research, development and design to other core departments, such as human resources, marketing, strategy and engineering. Some conglomerates have decided to use the English language in all their business meetings to make foreign employees feel more comfortable.

This trend will likely continue for the foreseeable future. In Luxemburg, 43.8% of the population consists of foreign employees. In Switzerland, it is 24.4%, Australia is 25.6 %, U.S. is 15.8%, and Canada is 19.8%. However, in Korea, it only stands at 3%. This is a small number when factoring the growth of the global reputation of Korean companies, such as Samsung and LG.

Careercare is the largest recruiting and executive search firm in the Korean market for the last 15 years. It is time for us to make a new leap forward. With our three core values, ‘Respect People’, ‘Differentiate the Differences’, and ‘Social Responsibility’, we are giving more efforts to achieve the vision of ‘Advance through Talent’.



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