High School Vocational Education Advancement Measure
Press release on May 12, 2010
Career & Vocational Education Division
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) reported the High School Vocational Education Advancement Measure to the presidential meeting on the employment strategy. The measure is mainly about strengthening the cooperation between vocational high schools and industries and improving the employment rate of the vocational high school graduates. As a part of this measure, the Ministry announced its plan to foster 400 vocational high schools, out of 691 in total, as Meister schools and specialized schools.
Fostering Meister/Specialized High Schools
Currently, there are 21 Meister high schools in Korea, and they are bringing sweeping changes to vocational high school education by developing the curriculum that meets the needs of industries and hiring business personnel as the school principals.
The case in point is Gumi Electronic Technical High School which employed an executive member of LG Electronics as the school principal. Furthermore, this school has recently signed an agreement with LG Innotek on the employment of 100 graduates, and is seeking to conclude the similar agreements also with LG Electronics and LG Display.
Another example is Chungbuk Semiconductor High School, which is emerging as the education institution specialized in the cultivation of semiconductor equipment operators. This school has built a Clean Room, a state-of-the-art lab furnished with the donated semiconductor equipment worth hundreds of millions Korean won. It has also opened the “Hynix Class” pursuant to the employment agreement with Hynix.
MEST plans to hand over the management of the national Meister high schools to the Small & Medium Business Administration in an effort to strategically foster these schools and expand support for them. The supportive measures include the signing of the employment deals with the competitive SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and hiring more of the business personnel as teachers.
Drawing on the experience in promoting the vocational school-industry cooperation through the designation and operation of Meister high schools, MEST plans to take steps to strengthen the cooperation between industries and the specialized schools. These steps will involve establishing the system that provides the information on the corporate demand for human resources to the specialized high schools and having the government agencies and industries expand the support for these schools.
Among those specialized school, the exemplary case of the government agency-school cooperation can be found in the maritime high schools, which are supported by the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM). Up to 79% of the students of these schools work in the maritime industry after graduation. MEST will increase the number of such Ministry-sponsored schools, centering on the areas where the human resources are lacking, such as cooking (Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), construction in overseas countries (MLTM), social service area (Ministry of Health and Welfare), etc.
Meanwhile, the Korea Dental Association has called for the cultivation of around 1,000 dental assistants, announcing its plan to support the equipment for high schools and sign the employment agreements with the schools. Accordingly, the high schools specialized in this area are expected to increase.
In an effort to establish the standard for quality assurance of the specialize high schools, MEST will encourage expanded engagement of industries and municipal governments in the management of the specialized high schools and implement the evaluation of the schools on a regular basis.
Transforming the small-sized integrated high schools into the core specialized high schools
So far, 187 integrated high schools have been in operation in Korea, and they have had lots of difficulties providing decent vocational education due to their small sizes and poor education environment. Moreover, the transformation of these schools into general high schools has not been easy either, due to the problem of the reassignment of teachers.
To address this problem, MEST is to reassign the vocational education teachers of the integrated high schools to the specialized high schools or the public boarding high schools, which is aimed at ensuring the quality of education for each vocational field and meeting the students’ demand for vocational education.
According to the High School Vocational Education Advancement Measure, the government plans to invest around KRW 100 billion in support of the specialized high schools by 2011, KRW 4 billion in teacher training, and KRW 20 billion in supporting the employment of the graduates of vocational high schools.
Employment-first system to be established
Currently, a large proportion of the vocational high school graduates enter a college or university right after graduation without any second thought. In order to address this problem, MEST will build the “Employment-first System,” which encourages those students to get a job first, developing career in the areas of their specialization, and go to the colleges or universities later, if necessary.
To this end, the focus of the vocational high schools’ curriculum will be shifted from the major academic subjects such as Korean language, math and English to the practical subjects that help students nurture the skills required by industries. As a part of this scheme, MEST and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry will co-develop the Vocational Aptitude Test which is designed to replace the existing academic achievement assessment tool and be utilized for the employment of the vocational high school graduates.
The opportunity for college entrance and scholarship benefits will be expanded for the company workers who started their career shortly after graduating from vocational high schools.
In addition, the government agencies will increase the personnel for supporting the employment of vocational high school graduates. In particular, the Ministry of Employment and Labor will expand the support for and scope of the youth internship program to enable the vocational high school graduates to apply for the internship positions at companies.