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Forklift exam draws more test-takers in 50s seeking new skills

By Song Seung-hyun

Published : April 29, 2024 - 16:01

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The most popular occupational licensing exam among people in their 50s is forklift operation, government data shows. (123rf) The most popular occupational licensing exam among people in their 50s is forklift operation, government data shows. (123rf)

A record number of South Koreans in their 50s took exams last year for government-issued occupational certifications, with forklift licenses topping the list.

The trend reflects a surge in interest in pursuing second careers and highlights the significant difficulty many face in finding new employment related to one's previous experience.

According to the Human Resources Development Service of Korea, the number of test-takers in their 50s exceeded 218,000 in 2023, accounting for 12.2 percent of all those taking the exams, at 1,795,721.

This marks the highest proportion of 50-somethings taking the exams since the agency began compiling data in 2009.

While the total number of test-takers increased by an average of 1.7 percent annually over the past five years, the number of those in their 50s surged by an average of 9.2 percent annually during the same period.

The primary motivations for taking the exams were career-oriented, with 38 percent aiming for new job opportunities or starting a business.

"We wholeheartedly support those in their 50s gearing up for a second act by acquiring national technical qualifications," said Lee Woo-young, head of the Human Resources Development Service of Korea. "We will continue to strive to operate qualification tests that are practical and relevant to workforce needs."

The most popular exam among people in their 50s was forklift operation in 2023, which was also the case for 2022. From 2019 to 2021, the cooking certificate for Korean food was most popular.

There are no separate qualification requirements to take the forklift operation exam, and high demand in the field appears to be driving interest among older test-takers, according to the Human Resources Development Service.