Software hiring doesn’t compute

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Software hiring doesn’t compute

One of the key pillars of the Park Geun-hye administration’s “creative economy” is software, but it seems the country remains far from appreciating the workforce in the field, according to a report from a state-run think tank.

Based on a 2012 survey of 250 workers across 102 companies, a report by the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade yesterday said IT companies hire 33 percent fewer certified software employees than the level considered appropriate. For Web experts, the shortfall is 42.5 percent.

The institute contends that low software employment is mainly because workers have less of a chance to climb the corporate ladder.

“It is rare for software developers to be promoted to the highest level at midsize and small tech companies,” the think tank said in the report. “The majority opt for migrating to another company to extend their careers without promotion.”

The report also shows that software workers retire at about the age of 45, five to 10 years earlier than those engaged in other fields. Researchers and technicians in telecom devices and semiconductors leave work at an average age of 50, while those in automobiles, shipbuilding, steel, textiles and displays retire at 55.

What makes software developers relatively less valuable from an employer’s point of view is the short life expectancy of software, according to the institute. The market life for software is only 3.9 years on average, according to developers who responded to the survey.

The institute recommends that the software industry boost compensation, help smaller firms increase their profitability and reform human resources management systems to extend the length of careers.

Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning Choi Mun-kee has repeatedly said, “There won’t be creative economy without progress in software.” The ministry is set to establish a new bureau specializing in software and transform an existing high school into a software-training institution that would graduate as many as 160 students per year. The government has also decided to allow non-engineering students to double-major in software development.


BY seo ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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