No more empty slogans

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No more empty slogans

Korean universities and colleges have long failed to meet the demands of industry.

Korean college graduates are highly qualified, but not necessarily immediately ready to join a company. According to the Korea Employers Federation, companies on average spend 59.6 million won ($52,000) to train a new recruit for an average 18.3 months.

The government announced a five-year outline to strengthen cooperation between corporations and universities. It will support joint programs in hopes of creating 50,000 new jobs by 2020. Its outline includes proposals to allow universities to form affiliated entities to directly hire graduates, support start-ups and increase rehiring.

It aims to boost student quotas in job-oriented departments, which now total 4,927, to 25,000 over the next five years. Some universities have already been successful in joint university-corporate programs, offering preferences to students in the program when it comes to hiring. The programs currently limited to semiconductors and the IT sector should expand to various departments. The plan also proposes creating funds to support start-ups created by graduate students and professors so that more will take a shot at starting up their own companies instead of looking for corporate jobs.

The government will spend 250 billion won annually for the next five years for a total of 1.2 trillion won.

But slogans and budget pledges do not necessarily lead to real jobs. Critics worry university campuses could become over-reliant on corporate capital.

What must come first is improvement in the standards of joint university-corporation projects.

Local universities earn 57.6 billion won in technology transfers, just 5 percent of their American counterparts.

Stanford University, which helps fuel Silicon Valley, earns over 70 billion won alone from technology transfers.

Systematic and persistent support for entrepreneurs is necessary. Candidates must be advised and promoted not only when it comes to starting a business but also in running one. Corporate-campus cooperation needs to branch out of the science and engineering departments to the liberal arts and various other fields to help generate creative and convergent jobs.

JoongAng Ilbo, April 13, Page 30

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