Focus on foreign workers

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Focus on foreign workers

Professional workers brought to Korea from other countries are leaving the country at an alarming rate.

It also appears that a considerable number of qualified individuals are not willing to come to this country in the first place, and in many cases it has nothing to do with money or treatment.

The biggest reasons foreign professionals say they are reluctant to work for local companies in Korea is the educational system and the difficulty of communicating.

Because these two basic requirements are not met, it’s only natural that people do not want to come to live here.

Data covering the foreign population in Korea shines a light on this dire situation. The number of foreign residents here is 1.23 million as of July - yet just 44,000 of them are professional workers, nearly half of whom are foreign language instructors.

The number of professional workers who brought their families here stands at less than 15,000. Simply put, professionals from other countries don’t see Korea as an attractive option for work and life.

In the age of global competition, a country cannot - and should not - fill its professional vacancies entirely with its own workforce. When it comes to professional manpower, a country must import at least some talent from other countries. To do that successfully, however, it must create an attractive living environment for them by minimizing inconveniences.

If a nation strives to draw excellent talent from overseas but neglects to create such an environment, it’s unreasonable to expect it to draw many workers from other countries for professional jobs.

The situation in Korea more or less reflects the sorry state of our globalization efforts. The country offers very few qualified international schools, and even in special economic zones it’s difficult to open such institutions because of complicated government regulations.

Moreover, the average citizen’s ability to communicate in a foreign language is low. Even universities and large companies that have strived to attract much-needed foreign presence have struggled. Foreigners have said that communicating in these environments can be extremely difficult.

Our foreign language education system has therefore failed to meet global standards on many levels, showing that we are lagging far behind other countries when it comes to international competition.

To prevent the situation from getting worse, we should allow the free establishment of international schools and focus our attention on strengthening foreign-language education.

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