Vocational education in Korea begins in high school, with vocational training primarily offered by vocational high schools. Vocational high schools are divided into two categories: specialized high schools and Meister high schools. The latter is designed to cater to the needs of industrial sectors. Of the 583 vocational high schools, specialized high schools account for 80% with 464 schools currently in operation. Around 12% of general high schools provide vocational classes, while Meister high schools represent 8% of the total. The primary goal of vocational education is to develop skilled professionals who can readily meet the industrial demands in the workforce. Meister high schools, established in 2010, lead the development of vocational education by nurturing technical experts, or “Meisters,” who can address specific industrial demands.

Vocational education policies to support employment 2023

Vocational education policies to support employment 2023: Policy, Aim
Policy Aim
Designating new Meister high schools Fostering Meister high schools in the leading-edge and promising industries such as AI and digital technology, 3-4 new Meister high schools are designated in the semi-conductor and digital fields in 2023
Reorganizing departments of vocational high schools Reorganizing departments and introducing micro-curriculum to vocational high schools that aspire to transition their departments to new technologies, new industries, and promising fields
Capacity-building of specialized high schools Enhancing the digital capabilities of specialized high schools and providing support for specialized curriculum tailored to each region (200 schools in 2023)
Developing a framework to manage high school graduates Expanding the leading framework of employment support that can be operated by vocational high schools for unemployed graduates, graduates discharged from military service, etc.
Operating vocational high school programs linked to employment and job training Offering a three-month integrated pre-employment training and on- site education to vocational high school graduates (and soon-to-be graduates), taking into account the demand from hiring companies (1,350 individuals in 2023)

The government plays a critical role in supporting vocational education, with a particular emphasis on employment. To this end, a support system has been established, connecting the central government, regional government, and schools for graduates to apply their skills and specialties to job opportunities. The Ministry of Education and the Metropolitan and Provincial Offices of Education have created Employment Support Centers to assist vocational high school graduates in finding quality employment. In addition, the “Job First, University Later” system has been implemented, and higher education institutions offer a special admission track for individuals who are already employed, providing subsidies for college tuition for those who pursue college degrees later. As a result, even if students find employment immediately after high school graduation, they can continue to develop their abilities through higher education at any time.

Source : 2023 Education in Korea