As Korea's young generation continue to shun jobs requiring manual labor, the local shipbuilding industry is getting by with older workers, causing some concern about the future of one of Korea's top three industries. According to industry sources, the average age of shipyard workers is 40.5, up from 39.8 in June of last year. The average age in 1993 was 33.6, which grew steadily thereafter to 34.3 in 1995, 35 in 1997, 35.5 in 1999 and 36.2 in 2001.
The average age is calculated from the ages of workers in Korea's nine leading shipbuilding companies, including Hyundai Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, Samsung Heavy Industries, Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries, Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction, Hyundai Mipo Dockyard and STX Corp. Struggling to deal with the manpower shortage problem, Korea's shipbuilders are said to be outsourcing 30 to 40 percent of their work to affiliated firms. The real problem, however, is viewed to be the future, as most believes that the maximum suitable age for working in the field is around 40. The common views are that if the industry doesn't develop a new generation of manpower in the next few years, it will see serious shortage of workers. The industry association is currently working on an alternative, asking the government to allow the hiring of foreign workers.