A student-focused work-study program

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A student-focused work-study program

On May 18, Human Resources Development Service of Korea and 13 universities, including Gachon University, signed a cooperation agreement for work-study programs, signaling full-fledged launch of government-sponsored Industry Professional Practice (IPP) to enhance field skills for the students and resolve the mismatch of youth employment market.

Modeling after the Korea University of Technology and Education’s IPP program, the school systems are restructured to include field experiences, and 13 universities chosen to introduce the work-study programs are to be provided with 1 billion won ($898,000) every year for the next five years. More than 2,000 students at the 13 colleges participate in long-term field training at over 800 companies. The IPP work-study program was to be tested at 10 schools, but 44 colleges and universities applied, and four additional schools were chosen. However, one of the 14 schools gave up on introducing the program due to the opposition of professors and other community members.

Through the work-study program, companies train the workers they need, and government supports the companies to provide systematic training programs. As the core of Park Geun-hye administration’s competency-centered social model, more than 2,000 companies already operate the program.

Unlike the internship programs that give college credits for working as interns at small and medium businesses, the work-study program provides expenses to the participating schools and companies and pays the student workers and supervising professors with wages. The cost for developing training programs for systematic education is also covered by the government. Upon completion of the training, the companies make hiring offers as long as the students want employment and the company has no extraordinary circumstances, and it is expected to resolve the shortage of workers for small and medium companies.

The government policies to encourage and support employment for high school graduates include the Employment First School Later system of the Lee Myung-bak administration, the NCS development and expansion and work-study program in the Park Geun-hye administration.

Because of the policies encouraging employment of high school graduates, current college students and college graduates have a relative disadvantage. The work-study program in universities will be able to resolve the disadvantage that current college students suffer by expanding the opportunities for employment. While only 2,000 students participate in the work-study program, the government is tracking the outcome and plans to expand it. Hopefully, it will provide opportunities for colleges and universities offer more relevant field experiences along with education.

by Park Young-bum, CEO of the Human Resources Development Service of Korea

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