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Hotels, Resorts, and Care Facilities Now Open to Foreign Workers – Government Announces New Eligible Sectors
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승인 2024.03.21  15:54:48
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“Despite offering a 7% wage increase, night transportation fees, and accommodation, young people are still not interested in these jobs. Especially for room cleaning, it is hard to find workers other than foreigners.”

The employment of foreign workers in hotels and resorts is now permitted. With the rapid aging population and the decrease in the working-age population, industries struggling to find employees are increasingly turning to foreign workers.

At the end of last year, the government held the 41st Foreign Workforce Policy Committee meeting, chaired by Bang Ki-sun, the Chief of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, at the Government Complex Seoul. The meeting finalized the new sectors eligible for foreign workforce employment under the Employment Permit System and designated new countries for workforce sourcing.

The Employment Permit System, introduced in 2004, allows small and medium-sized businesses struggling to hire local workers to employ foreign workers legally. Foreigners entering on non-professional employment (E-9) visas can work in specific industries for a set period.

Facing persistent demands for foreign workers due to labor shortages, particularly in the hotel and resort sectors, the government decided to permit the employment of foreign workers after conducting field surveys and assessing demand.

As a result of this decision, starting next year, hotels and resorts in Seoul, Busan, Gangwon, and Jeju will be able to employ foreign workers in roles like cleaning and kitchen assisting on a trial basis.

Following this, the government plans to gather feedback from stakeholders and jointly evaluate the pilot program with related ministries to consider further expansion.

In addition, comprehensive measures will be implemented, including job and industrial safety training through industry-specific associations. These measures will be accompanied by workforce management strategies, taking into account the employment permit system's characteristics and current industry conditions.

In the second half of next year, a joint survey by related ministries will be conducted to examine the employment management of foreign workers in the hotel and resort industries.

Meanwhile, the government also finalized a plan to designate Tajikistan as the 17th sending country under the Employment Permit System. Until now, the system has been maintained in 16 countries, including the Philippines and Vietnam, since 2015.

Workers from Tajikistan are expected to start arriving in 2025, following the signing of a government-to-government Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the establishment of a dedicated center in their country next year.

The government plans to accept applications from countries wishing to participate in the Employment Permit System and will designate additional sending countries accordingly.

Last month, during the Foreign Workforce Policy Committee meeting, the government decided to introduce the largest number of foreign workers to date, totaling 165,000 for next year. Additionally, restaurant, mining, and forestry sectors have been added to the list of industries allowed to hire foreign workers.

With the increase in demand due to aging demographics, it is anticipated that employment of foreign workers in care facilities, where finding caregivers has been challenging, will rise.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, is pursuing a plan to provide incentives for permanent residency to foreigners who, after graduating from a Korean university and holding a D-10 (job-seeking) visa, obtain a caregiver certificate and work in care facilities for a certain period (over two years).

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