[EDITORIALS]Most talented are shunnedThe Presidential Advisory Council on Science and Technology has drafted a plan to help more science and engineering graduates find jobs at government agencies. Korea’s scientists created the nation’s technological legend, fueling a period of rapid economic expansion. But they have not been treated very well.
Especially in government agencies, officials who majored in science or engineering have faced limits to advancement. By presidential decree, the posts at government agencies are divided into those for administrators and those for technicians. In the higher posts, technicians occupy fewer positions. As for the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, which is closely related to technology, only one among the 30 bureau heads is a technician. Scientists and engineers, despite the difficulty of their fields, receive relatively poor compensation. In such a situation, we cannot blame excellent students for being reluctant to enter science and engineering. We laud the council’s plan to abolish the division between administrative and technical posts, which will give technicians the opportunity to advance as high as minister.
But it would be a problem if the government holds that the only way to treat graduates from science and engineering well is to advance them to higher-ranking posts at government agencies. It would be better if the most outstanding science and engineering talent were able to use their abilities in research and development in the industrial world rather than with government. If the government sticks with the idea that success is becoming a high-ranking official at an agency, science and engineering will atrophy. The government should create conditions under which science and engineering colleges are treated well and are respected by companies and research institutes.
The academic world is now in danger of collapsing because of the boom in applications to take state exams to become judicial and administrative officers. The boom could spread to science departments. The government should first create a social atmosphere in which scientists and engineers are respected.