Seoul to re-introduce allowance for young jobseekers

By Kim Bo-eun

The welfare ministry on Friday permitted the city’s disputed plan to financially assist young jobseekers.

Under the plan, set to begin in June, the young aspirants will receive support for costs of private classes and test fees to get jobs.

The city will provide 5,000 Seoul residents aged 19 to 29 with 500,000 won ($440) in monthly allowance for six months.

The welfare ministry, which earlier opposed the project, approved it based on revisions made by the city government.

The city has narrowed down the pool of applicants to those in middle- and low-income families. Recipients will need to take part in career exploration and skill training programs, and the financial support will only be provided for job-seeking activities such as tuition for private academies or exam fees. The city also plans to monitor how the financial assistance is being used and achievements made from the support. The monitoring will focus on keeping records of employment rates and how many times the recipients have taken tests and interviews for job openings.

In November 2015, the city proposed a plan to provide 500,000 won a month to 3,000 unemployed people in Seoul aged 19 to 29.

At the time, then-Deputy Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan referred to the plan as a “populism-based welfare project,” and pledged the central government would prevent its implementation.

The government filed a complaint to halt the budget the city government drew up for the project, which the city council passed.

In January 2016, the city said it would negotiate the project with the central government, and submitted the plan to the welfare ministry in March.

However, the ministry disapproved the plan, citing that the standards for recipients were not clear, and that the money was being provided for purposes other than job-seeking. The ministry said it would approve the plan if the city complemented these shortcomings.

But in August the city pushed forward with the plan, providing 500,000 won in allowance to 2,831 youth under a pilot project.

The ministry took measures to cancel the plan. Afterward, the city submitted its revised plan in January this year, which the ministry finally approved last week.

Because the plan was nullified by the welfare ministry, the project will have to be restarted from scratch.

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