Too smart by half?

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Too smart by half?


The author is a deputy head of the industry team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

“You should at least have a college degree to make a living.” Korean parents have been saying this all the time, but I wonder if it is true. Every year, the number of unemployed college graduates is about 200,000. In reality, many young people cannot make a living even with a college degree. Also, it feels that the time has come when going to college is not a must, as creators and idol singers become role models.

A recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report gives me other ideas. The WSJ had an article titled “American Factories Demand White-Collar Education for Blue-Collar Work” on Dec. 9. The federal government data analysis shows that the percentage of college graduates among workers at manufacturing plants in the United States is the highest in history. The percentage went up from 29 percent in 2000 to 40.9 percent this year. In the same period, high school graduates fell from 53.9 percent to 43.1 percent. It is due to the facility automation and introduction of robots. From 2012 to 2018, total employment went down by 3 percent, but employment of workers who can handle complicated machines increased by 10 percent. Simple workers lost jobs, but college graduates trained for high-tech machines increased.

Korea’s situation is not much different. Manufacturing companies replace human jobs with automated facilities and robots. While it seems that manufacturing jobs are decreasing, jobs dealing with high-tech machines are increasing. With the new industrial changes in the future, demands for an educated workforce will continue to grow for sure.

Then, will it be the world where you need your college degree to make a living again? People with professional education for changes of industry will be competitive. It is not about college education, and our task is to think about what professional education to offer to high school graduates.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 20, Page 35
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