April 07, 2018 08:11
More than half of Korea's population between 25 and 64 will be college-educated by 2020 and the proportion will reach a whopping 70 percent by 2035, a study suggests. The glut of highly educated manpower will strain the job market as there are fewer of the jobs they aspire to be available.
According to the study by Kim Hyun-sik of Kyunghee University for Statistics Korea, 52.8 percent or 16.64 million of the 31.5 million people aged 25-64 will have a college degree or higher by 2020. That is up five percentage points from 2015.
Unless something is done, the proportion will swell to 59.9 percent in 2025, 64.8 percent in 2030, and 69.3 percent in 2035. As of 2016, Korea ranked fourth in the OECD in terms of the proportion of college graduates after Canada (56.3 percent), Japan (50.5 percent), and Israel (49.9 percent). But it will highly likely outpace them after 2020.
The ratio of the highly educated population to the entire population was 32.6 percent in 2015, and that will rise to 42.4 percent in 2030 and 51.2 percent in 2045.
Meanwhile, the ratio of male and female college graduates will likely be reversed by 2055. The proportion of college graduates among men was 35 percent in 2015, while among women the figure was 30.1 percent. But female graduates will overtake their male counterparts at 58 percent versus 56.5 percent in 2055.
Woo Hae-bong of the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs said, "Women's education levels will keep rising in the future as more girls are already going on to college than boys."
It will become easier to recruit highly educated manpower if their proportion rises, but their expectations will also increase and their chances of getting the jobs they want will dwindle.
"Only 40 percent of those who are working at high-school education-level jobs actually have no more than a high-school diploma, while the rest have a college degree or higher," said Kim Ahn-kook of the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training said. "With so many highly educated workers, it's likely that they will find it harder to get decent pay."
Some pundits stress the need to make the most of female manpower as more highly educated women are entering the workforce. "Highly educated women have problems continuing to work without interruptions when they have children," said Prof. Jung Jae-hun of Seoul Women's University. "The government should make efforts to create a social infrastructure and environment in which those women can continue to work and achieve what they want."
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