Gov’t advised to tap private sector

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Gov’t advised to tap private sector

The Park Geun-hye administration needs to open high-ranking positions in public organizations to the private sector to boost competitiveness and maximize its creative economy initiative, according to a science and technology think tank.

The National Academy of Engineering of Korea (Naek) also suggested the government create a ministry in charge of recruiting and managing foreign talent. English should also be elevated as a primary language along with Korean, the academy said.

“Korean government organizations have to switch their decision-making tendencies from the current centralized way to a decentralized way that embraces private sector experts,” said Lee Woo-il, vice chairman of Naek and a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Seoul National University. “The government should make Korea more foreigner-friendly so that immigrant talent and inventors choose Korea over other countries.”

The suggestions were made in a discussion forum Thursday at Naek in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul, where members were invited to assess creative economy policies.

Key figures from academia and the public and private sectors were present to share their insights. Chung Joon-yang, chairman of the academy and former chairman of Posco, Yoon Jong-lok, second vice minister of science, ICT and future planning, and lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties attended.

The group called for organizational reform in which the government model is decentralized to include input from experts both inside and outside the government.

“The government has to worry about what it should not do in order to promote the creative economy initiative,” he added.

He explained that the public sector should also enhance transparency in decision-making processes and nurture flexibility in public servants to quickly adapt to changes.

Naek also pointed out the significance of recruiting foreign talent, especially people of Korean descent, in an era of a low birthrate and an aging society.

Lee explained that offering special immigration benefits and the establishment of a new immigration office would contribute to developing quality technology and securing and patents.

According to data from the World Intellectual Property Organization last year, only 1 percent of Korea’s international patents came from immigrants from 2006-10 and its position ranked in 24th place, compared to Singapore’s 52.9 percent and Switzerland’s 40.4 percent.

“It is quite a bold idea, but we think now is the time to establish a ministry-level immigration office and examine the possibility of making English an official language, in an effort to make Korea a more attractive country to move to and pump out great ideas,” Lee said.

BY KIM JI-YOON [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]


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