Subsidy plan aims to help industry hire top engineers

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Subsidy plan aims to help industry hire top engineers

As part of efforts to boost the competence of Korean heavy industry, the government has introduced a funding plan to get small and midsize companies and university departments to hire highly qualified foreign engineers.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy yesterday announced it will start covering as much as 70 percent of each foreign engineer’s annual salary up to a maximum of 200 million won ($190,967) a year. Each company is eligible to have two employees under the program.

The support is limited to small and midsize enterprises working in facilities, shipbuilding, oil and gas extraction, petrochemicals, construction, civil engineering and related manufacturing industries.

According to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s competitiveness indices, Korea’s manufacturing sector competitiveness rank hasn’t improved since 2005, when it went from 12th to fourth.

“China will threaten Korea’s stronghold manufacturing sectors more severely within five years, with the exception of automobiles, semiconductors and machinery,” said Seo Dong-hyuk, a research fellow at Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, at a seminar Monday. “China will take over Korea’s lead in the shipbuilding and petrochemical industries.”

To further promote technology development, the Industry Ministry launched an engineer training center at Seoul National University and master’s degree programs at Yonsei University and Chung-Ang University in June.

“So far, Korean heavy industry has suffered from a lack of quality talent,” the ministry said in a statement, “which means local heavy industry companies profited mainly from simple work such as construction and design details, while heavily relying on foreign companies for project planning and conceptual design.”

Companies and universities must hire foreign engineers not just in technology, but in project planning and marketing. Eligible foreigners should have at least a master’s degree and three years of work experience at overseas companies, research institutes or universities. Each company can receive funding for up to three years. Applications must be submitted by Nov. 28 to the Engineering Development Research Center at Seoul National University.


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