Sheep astray

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Sheep astray

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In any society, the higher a person’s education, the more he or she gets paid.
People who have spent more time and energy than others to get advanced degrees expect more compensation. For that correlation to continue, the premise that people with higher education work more competently must also prove to be true.
The problem occurs when one’s educational background does not guarantee competence as an employee. If one has a high educational background but doesn’t meet the expectations of him, his employer won’t pay him more despite his background. In many fields, educational degrees are not considered important. In some jobs, employers do not even check the educational background of the new workers they hire.
Controversy arises when the difference in payment gets bigger along with the difference in educational backgrounds.
In economics, this is called the sheepskin effect.
According to that theory, a person with a higher degree gets paid a lot more even though he or she is not any more competent than other, less-educated people.
If this persists, the demand for higher education will continue to increase.
In Korea, 80 percent of high school graduates go on to college. This probably demonstrates that the sheepskin effect still has a strong influence in our society.
Even though one’s educational background does not guarantee competence, companies still look to applicants’ educational backgrounds when they hire new workers. This is because there is no better way to differentiate applicants.
When a job requires professional knowledge and skills, a higher educational background is required.
That is why, in the positions of researchers or professors, higher academic degrees and research papers are required. In these cases, academic degrees are not part of the sheepskin effect, but rather to show their competence. Fabricating academic degrees in those fields is not the same as in show business. To be employed as a professor with a fabricated academic degree is the same as driving a car with a fake driver’s license.
It is more than a lie. It is a crime.
The Korea Council for University Education will verify people’s educational degrees upon request. If companies or universities ask for verification of the academic backgrounds of would-be employees, the council will check their degrees. Now, with a fabricated degree, it becomes hard to get a job, let alone to enjoy the sheepskin effect.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Kim Jong-soo [jongskim@joongang.co.kr]
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