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This note sketches the background, objective, key research questions and interim findings of Post-Secondary VET(vocational education and training) in Korea, a study under way in the context of the OECD-KRIVET collaborative project Skills beyond Schools. Starting with critical stock taking of existing studies and Korea’s latest policy responses, the study seeks to re-illuminates the problems and prospects of Korea’s post-secondary VET issues from a global and dynamic perspective; highlights “new” and “unique” dimensions of the Korea’s situation, distinctive from Korea’s own past and from the rest of the world; and suggests areas and directions of Korea’s “strategic” choice and policy innovations in need
Making up skills through education and training as well as circulating skills in the labour market are becoming important for policymakers to support growth and sustainable development across the OECD countries. In Korea, policymakers have looked beyond secondary school to tertiary education to provide the skills needed in many of the fastest growing technical and professional jobs after the economic crisis in 1998. Also, being recently faced with the problem of skills gap or skills mismatch in the labour market caused from the expansion of higher education and the aging society, Korea began to recognise the importance of post-secondary VET that pays an important role in re-skilling and up-skilling adult.
The key areas of this study are twofold: skills formation and skills circulation. Inter-related to the demand and supply of skills, these areas depend upon each other for the function of skills transaction or skills signal in the labour market. This study seeks to analyze both skills formation in post-secondary VET and skill needs in the labour market in one framework. This paper specifically emphasizes the linkage between post-secondary VET and the labour market. The contents of this project deal with four parts: challenges and labour market needs, skills formation, skills signal system, and policy issues.
Big challenges emerge from both supply and demand sides for skills in the labour market. The trends of big challenges are related to three issues: requirement of higher-level employment skill, expansion of higher education cum high youth unemployment, and the reduction of population. These issues are the most significant trends that have affected skills development system.
Skills formation is a supply side for skills by education and training. By the definition of OECD, tertiary education (except academic education), vocational training and workplace training, lifelong learning, and etc. are contained in the scope of postsecondary VET. In Korea, skills formation in post-secondary VET level can divide with both initial VET for youth and continuous VET for adult.
The environment around skills formation is very complex. Skills formation is also affected by variable conditions of socio-economic environment – community development, traditional culture, local or region development, and etc. In Korea, social education and training to facilitate local community and culture community come on stage with the impetus of socio-economic development. The new figure of this education and training will be put into basis to create new jobs for the future of Korea.
Next, skills signal play a role to facilitate the linkage between education/training market and the labour market. In Korea, two types of signal system exist. One is the signal that occurs from the labour market, as represented by SHRDC (sector human resource development council) and NCS (national competency standards). The other is the signal created by the post secondary VET such as qualification, degree, and credit recognition, which are used by employers to identify the competencies and skills. Skill signals along the grounds of good information play a role in lowering transaction costs of skills, strengthening the linkage between VET and the la