Vocational Skills Can Revive the Workforce

LEE Kap-Soo, Research Fellow, Samsung Economic Research Institute

Korea's skilled manual workforce is shrinking

Shortage of Skilled Workforce in Korea

Source: Ministry of Employment and Labor (each year). Workforce survey by job type.
Year Skilled workforce Skilled workforce shortage Engineer shortage
2008 2,120,000 240,000 260,000
2009 2,130,000 370,000 260,000
2010 2,228,000 450,000 250,000
2011 2,320,000 390,000 250,000
2012 2,340,000 410,000 190,000

Social prejudice values college degrees over skilled labor

Skilled workers lack career development opportunities

Companies are losing institutional knowledge as older workers retire

Learning from Germany

Duale Ausbildung: Companies and schools work together to train workers

Meister Schools: Train students in useful future skills

Needed reforms

Revamping of certifications and qualifications

Provision of a professional growth path

Support for vocational skills based startups with credit and loans

Changing of social perceptions about skilled trades

Investment in vocational skills can ease youth unemployment, increase industrial competitiveness, and strengthen the middle class

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