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A paradigm shift for education and jobs

Nov 03,2017
Due to expansion of college education and growth without employment, the problem of unemployment among young college graduates in Korea has become a social issue since the 2000s. In the last administration, government ministries such as the Ministry of Employment and Labor, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Trade and Industry and colleges and universities made various efforts to enhance employment of young people. For the past 10 years or so, the government has been using the employment rate of graduates as a key indicator for financial assistance programs for schools, and colleges and universities focused on improving employment rate of their graduates.

Nevertheless, the overall employment rate of college graduates remains around the 60 percent level, and the rate of college graduates having regular employment went down by more than 10 percent point compared to a decade ago. The decent jobs that college graduates prefer decreased by 75,000. The youth unemployment problem in Korea cannot be resolved by an educational institute or efforts of individuals without changing the overall system of employment today. When the pie gets bigger by creating more new jobs, the problem can be resolved fundamentally. We need to draw a bigger picture.

As examples from the United States and Europe illustrate, creation of new jobs is mostly from knowledge-based start-ups and social venture companies that creatively resolve social issues. Entrepreneurship education can be a key and direct link between education and job creation. Entrepreneurship is the collective ability of insight to understand problems and opportunities in life, creativity to develop or utilize technologies and methods, teamwork, communication and self-control. Prestigious universities like Stanford and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology offer systematic and creative entrepreneurship education to many students.

Rather than adhering to the employment rate, Korean colleges and universities need to consider fundamental paradigm shift of education and jobs. For any major, students should be given an opportunity to take a project of learning and experiencing entrepreneurship at least for a semester.

*Senior researcher at the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training

Jin Mi-sug