Foreigners excel back home with Korean education

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Foreigners excel back home with Korean education

Expatriates from developing countries are obtaining Korean vocational certificates to gain better-paying jobs when they return to their homelands.

A Vietnamese, for instance, achieved a car mechanic certificate in April 2008 and returned to Vietnam in 2010 with the goal of opening an auto repair center.

An official for the Human Resources Development Service of Korea, which manages tests for the certificates, said the Vietnamese man used to tell him, “In Vietnam, a car mechanic certificate issued in Korea has more authority than a doctorate from [Vietnamese] universities.”

The average wage of university experts in Vietnam is about 100,000 won ($89) to 150,000 won per month, the service said. But that of mechanics with Korean certificates quadruples.

“A Vietnamese mechanic can easily earn 500,000 won and even 800,000 won, [if they get the certificate from Korea],” said an official of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.

Jin Ihua, a Chinese national who obtained a cooking license in Korean cuisine in August 2009 after failing three times, said she plans to open a Korean restaurant in her hometown.

“If I promote my Korean certificate, local people will crowd in,” said the 36-year-old Jin. “After saving money, I also want to open a branch in Korea as well.”

The Human Resources Development Service of Korea said about 203,150 foreign nationals obtained vocational certificates over the past five years. Given that there had been few foreign test-takers in 2000, the recent figure shows a dramatic increase.

The service said the most popular certificates are cosmetology and cooking licenses for Korean food, which have awarded roughly 100 successful applicants every year in each.

“As the Korean Wave combines with Korea’s image as main exporter in the automobile and IT industries, foreigners are increasingly eager to get the vocational licenses in Korea,” said Yu Jae-soub, president of the service.

According to the service, the nationality of foreign applicants for the certificates vary considerably, such as China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Uzbekistan. “Most foreign applicants want to run their own businesses in their home countries with the help of Korean certificates,” said Gweon Gi-mok, director of the Qualification Planning Team at the service.


By Kim Ki-chan [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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