Korea Awash with the Under-Skilled and Overeducated

      December 08, 2011 07:39

      Some 80 percent of high school graduates go to college in Korea, whereas in many advanced countries like Germany students freely choose between vocational training and college according to their aptitudes and talents.

      In 1980, a mere 39.2 percent of high school graduates went to college, but the percentage jumped to 75.8 percent in 1995 and reached about 80 percent in the early 2000s.

      Despite a glut of college graduates every year, companies complain about a shortage of young workers with professional skills. In a survey of 200 corporate executives by Media Research for the Chosun Ilbo in October, 75 percent of respondents said Korean education is failing to produce the workers companies need.

      Students only want to go to four-year universities, which give them no professional training. This means that many end up finding themselves unemployed when they graduate. Only 51 percent of college graduates found steady work this year.

      The country spends nearly W100 trillion (US$1=W1,131) on education every year but still fails to foster the human capital needed for business. This has led to the emergence of many highly educated but poorly paid malcontents.

      Yu Ji-sung of the Samsung Economic Research Institute said, "Demand for talented workers with an extensive knowledge and professional skills is growing, but if only young graduates without professional skills join the workforce, this could become a serious barrier to social development."

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