(ATTN: UPDATES with additional remarks, more information from 6th para; ADDS photo)
SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Thursday called for the introduction of "blind screening" in hiring all new employees in the public sector, saying it will help make sure the jobs will go to the most qualified, instead of those with better personal or school ties.
"I hope to immediately introduce the system to ensure fair competition, strictly based on skills and abilities," the president said in a weekly meeting with his top secretaries, according to presidential office Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.
Under the blind system, job applicants will not be asked to write down their academic backgrounds, physical conditions or birthplaces unless the jobs they are seeking to secure requires such information.
Those in charge of hiring will be prohibited from accessing such information.
"In other words, by eliminating all elements that could be used to discriminate, those from a prestigious college or from lesser known schools, schools in Seoul or those in rural areas will compete under the same conditions, from the same starting line with only their skills and abilities," the president said.
The system, if introduced, will affect at least 110,000 new jobs the government is seeking to create this year in the public sector alone.
The 110,000 new jobs currently depend on an 11.2 trillion-won (US$9.82 billion) extra budget the government is seeking to create but is opposed by major opposition parties.
However, the system will be applied to all new jobs in the public sector, including government positions, starting from next year.
"I believe we can introduce the system for government and public firm jobs with only a government decision. We cannot force the private sector to follow suit unless we revise the law, but previous cases where private firms used a blind employment system have repeatedly shown that they were able to hire far more skilled and more enthusiastic workers under such a system," the president said.
Fair opportunities for employment is one of the major pillars in the new president's labor policy, which includes creating up to 810,000 new jobs in the public sector during his five-year term.
His policy on new jobs also stresses increased opportunities for young people.
Since his inauguration May 10, the new president has repeatedly stressed the jobless rate for people aged between 15 and 29 years stood at 11.2 percent in April, the highest for the month in the country's history.
Moon also urged public firms to enhance their contributions to their host cities or towns, partly by boosting the proportion of their employees from their host regions to 30 percent of the total.
Most public firms, including the Korea Electric Power Corp., the country's third-largest firm by sales in 2016, have been relocated to rural areas under a government plan aimed at ensuring what it calls the balanced development of the nation.
Still, the proportion of their employees from host regions remain at under 10 percent, the president noted.
"I want you to either set up a lower limit or encourage the firms but make sure they bring it up to at least 30 percent," he said. "I believe that will be the minimum to ensure the construction of real innovative towns that will create their own growth engines and truly ensure balanced development of the country."
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