The Korea Herald


Drive against ‘excess education’ to focus on high school graduate jobs

By Lee Woo-young

Published : Oct. 25, 2011 - 20:01

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The government and businesses have stepped up efforts to create job opportunities for vocational high school students in a country where too many college graduates compete for too few jobs.

The education, labor and economy ministries signed a memorandum of understanding Monday with five major business organizations including the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Federation of Korean Industries and Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business to make efforts to provide more job opportunities for high school graduates, especially from special vocational high schools, the Education Ministry said.

At the event, President Lee Myung-bak also called for the business community to continue taking interest in the issue of creating jobs for high school graduates.

Lee also stressed in the Aug. 15 Liberation Day speech that the government will provide more opportunities for (high school) graduates to get a job first and continue their studies later on, pledging full scholarships and joint industry-academia programs for students.

Under the plan, 21 special vocational high schools called “meister” high schools have been established nationwide since 2008. They specialize in electronics, energy, shipbuilding, mechanical engineering, semiconductors, medical equipment and other areas to cultivate a talented workforce and reduce job and skill mismatches in the labor market.

As more students and parents see a grim job situation amid worsening economic conditions, they are turning to meister high schools, said a teaching director of Sudo Electric Technical High School in Gangnam. In the school, the number of students with excellent academic performance nearly doubled from 55 last year to 104 this year.

“Students and parents think that it’s a great advantage to obtain employment right after graduation while most students go to college and pay higher tuition but have a hard time getting a job later,” said the teacher on condition of anonymity.

Some students want to enter a meister high school, after the news that two brothers at the school both got employed to electricity companies, according to school officials.

The job prospect looks bright for them as more companies and government agencies pledge to provide more job opportunities.

According to the MOU signed by Hyundai Motors and the Education Ministry on Tuesday, the motor company will select about 1,000 students from nine meister high schools from next year and train them to become experts in automotive industry and provide a guarantee of employment after training for ten years.

The Southern Gyeongsang Province Educational Office announced Tuesday that they will select 50 percent of their technical staff from graduates of special vocational schools and meister high schools.

“Our decision will break down the old custom and beliefs that school names are important and address young unemployment and create more opportunities for high school graduates can find jobs,” officials of the educational office said.

By Lee Woo-young  (