Lessons from the Land of the Morning Calm
An omen of what’s to come in the U.S.? The South Korean government has launched an initiative pushing students away from the traditional four-year college-degree program: With a 60 percent college completion rate—Obama’s target college-completion rate for 2020, remember—South Korea’s economy isn’t able to absorb all degree-bearers into relevant, educationally appropriate positions. Instead of a utopia of educated people, the country lists almost 40 percent of its university grads as unemployed. The government is also rethinking what it would mean to re-up the respect-level of the high school diploma, a certification that carries little weight in the country today. And South Korea isn’t alone: Other countries like Japan have also increased their vocational-school options for students in these tough economic times, and are seeing higher employment rates and happier employers for it. Graduates of Japan’s vocational colleges can expect about twenty job offers each upon graduation, say school officials. These Asian Tigers might be on to something.
“In South Korea, too many college grads, too few jobs,” by Fred Hiatt, The Washington Post, October 24, 2011.“With workplace training, Japan’s Kosen colleges bridge ‘skills gap’,” by Blaine Harden, The Hechinger Report, October 16, 2011.
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