Sites to test skills of foreign workers

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Sites to test skills of foreign workers

In an effort to enable Korean companies to hire laborers in the workplace more effectively, the Human Resources Development Service of Korea said it has devised a qualification test to evaluate the practical skills of foreign applicants.

“Companies [in Korea] want to hire foreign workers with [appropriate] skills,” said Jeong Eun-hui, director of the Foreign Workforce Employment’s task force.

“We expect that the new test will satisfy the needs of Korean companies for foreign laborers,” Jeong added.

An auto parts company in Daejeon was one firm that was seeking laborers. The company said it hired two Vietnamese last June, but they had little knowledge of machinery or names of car parts.

“We hired them because it had been difficult finding workers,” a manager of the company said. “But we were speechless when they could not distinguish bolts from nuts.”

The company said it asked its Korean employees to mentor the Vietnamese to teach them the basic knowledge they needed.

For these kinds of companies, the service announced Sunday that it will build test sites in South Asian countries, which many foreigners come from to get jobs in Korea.

The sites will evaluate the practical skills of foreign applicants, such as understanding machinery terms, being proficient at work, communication capability and work experience.

“We conducted similar tests last year in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia with foreign workers applying for agriculture and fishery work [in Korea], but they just evaluated physical strength,” an official for the service said.

“Starting in July, we will assess the skills of applicants that Korean companies actually need in their work places, extending to the manufacturing sectors,” said the official.

The HRDS said the qualification test would not be mandatory for workers, but it would help those who get a good score find an appropriate job in Korea.

Under current law, all foreigners seeking employment here in factories or on farms must pass the Test of Proficiency in Korean.

Foreigners with the language certification only will be considered after those who pass the qualification test, the HRDS said.

“We will ... connect foreigners who score well on the qualification test with Korean corporations,” Jeong said.


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

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