Community college grads find more jobs

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Community college grads find more jobs

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The Korean job market is increasingly favoring applicants with tangible skills over fancy degrees, according to recent data by the state-run Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (Krivet).

Workers with a degree from a community college, which almost exclusively offer vocational training, were more likely to go from a contracted to salaried worker than those with a high school diploma or degree from a four-year college, according to a survey of some 920 salary and contract workers nationwide.

Nearly 91 percent of the community college graduates surveyed said they were currently hired as salaried employees. Meanwhile, 82.2 percent of bachelor’s degree holders were salaried, a level similar to high school graduates, at 81.3 percent.

Community college graduates also performed better than bachelor’s degree holders when it came to climbing the employment ladder.

According to the survey, 84 percent of community college graduates who started off their careers as contract employees succeeded in becoming salaried employees. Only 67 percent of four-year university graduates were able to do the same.

Of the four-year university graduates surveyed, those who earned their degree in an applied skill like engineering or medicine had a much easier time finding a job and becoming a salaried worker than those with humanities, arts or basic science degrees.

Ninety-four percent of engineering students got their first job as a salaried employee, while 91 percent of medical school and medicine graduates did the same. Only 72.5 percent of humanities graduates received a salaried position on their first try.

The Krivet report attributed the success of community college graduates to the practical and hands-on training the schools provide, which is typically favored by employers.

“The data shows that hands-on job skills and vocational training is more important than ever to satisfy the demands of the labor market,” said Ryu Ji-young, a senior researcher at Krivet.

“The government’s policy initiatives to promote skills-oriented hiring also should encourage job seekers to consider applying to small and midsize companies [rather than only aiming for conglomerates].”

To further promote the trend, more private sector employers - both conglomerates and small and midsize companies - have joined a government-led initiative to change their systems during the autumn hiring season to choose employees based on their skill sets.

A total of 23 companies, including large companies like Hyundai Mobis and CJ E&M, as well as smaller companies like Agabang & Company and Coupang, vowed this year to expand hiring of high school graduates and community college graduates who already have training in their fields.

These companies also decided to eliminate assessment sessions for foreign language proficiency and extracurricular activities that are irrelevant to the job skills.

Twenty-one universities were selected to receive government support in opening on-campus job hunting assistance centers, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said last Monday.

The new centers will hold job training programs and career management courses, and are open for use by students at nearby colleges.

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

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