Let industrial complexes brim with young enthusiasm
A national competitiveness for the future lies in the hands of the younger generation. Workplaces without the seed of hope for young people do not have a future. The Korean industrial front is up against contradictory conundrum - severe unemployment of young people and lack of workforce.
The Korean industrial field is in dire need of innovative and passionate input from the young. Korea Inc., with 80,000 businesses and 2 million workers, has been the hero in the epic drama of Korea’s rags-to-riches transformation over the last half-century. But it is now ailing and devoid of vivacity. Small and mid-sized companies demand young innovative and venturous talents to cope with the rapid changes in the economic habitat where frontiers are breaking down fast. Young people, despite scarce opportunities in office jobs, shun industrial sites due to a lack of living and entertainment culture and infrastructure.
The government has been trying to improve residential settlements around industrial sites by upgrading living comforts to draw more young people. One of the promising experiments has been creation of university and corporate outlets in industrial complexes so that the academy and industry can address common problems in industrial sites. When including the Osong industrial site in North Chungcheong that opened last week and the Daebul Industrial Complex in South Jeolla that will be refurbished soon, there will be five multipurpose complexes housing 11 universities and 26 departments to host over 5,000 students and 200 corporate affiliated research arms to incubate joint projects and talents.
The integrated melting pot of industry and academy can foster industry-oriented workers and generate new source of innovation and jobs. Course assignments and projects are strictly motivated by industrial purpose and needs and schools are run on corporate management mind-set. Students earn credits by participating in corporate projects and cases to solve problems in industrial fields.
The Banweol and Sihwa Industrial Complexes in Gyeonggyi, home to 18,000 small and mid-sized companies, held a meaningful event in February. They showed off a new makeover after renovation work with business hotels and residential buildings for workers. The factories were refurbished with a joint-run state-of-the-art waste disposal system and renovated production lines to raise productivity. It was the fruit of joint government and private investment to improve the environment of old industrial complexes. The changing look of industrial sites could help attract a younger workforce. Through convergence and continued investment, industrial complexes brimming with young enthusiasm could once again lead the country’s growth.
by Lee Kwan-sup, irst vice minister of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy