Posts Tagged ‘South Korea’

Inside International CTE: South Korea

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

This is part of our ongoing series examining international education systems in partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning blog on EdWeek 

Last week Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker proposed an increase of $83.5 million for career and technical education (CTE or VET—vocational education and training—as it is called in most other countries around the world) in his state. In Oregon where I live, Governor Kate Brown authorized $35 million last year to improve CTE programs. These are just two examples of how policymakers, at the urging of business and industry, are turning to CTE to fill the skills gap and improve our economy.

South Korea once had a strong vocational education system—so powerful it rebuilt its shattered economy. But today that is no longer the case. As we work to improve our CTE system in the United States, it behooves us to look at why VET lost favor in South Korea and examine the innovative solutions that are being implemented to improve education, training, and career options there.

From High Demand to Low Demand
After the Korean War, the economy of the newly divided Korean peninsula was devastated. However, you would never know it when you look at South Korea today. Gleaming skyscrapers dominate the Seoul skyline, internationally famous songs invoke the high life, and high-tech industry proliferates throughout the country.

It was no easy path to get this far in such a short period of time. It took comprehensive reforms that were anchored in education, and more specifically, vocational education and training.

In the 1970s and 1980s, vocational education in South Korea was more than socially acceptable, it was the primary way to succeed in obtaining a steady job with a decent income. Forty-five percent of students were enrolled in VET programs* compared to 11.4 percent in universities. With the shift to a more knowledge-based rather than industrial economy (known as the “tiger years”), the university degree grew in prominence to employers and, therefore, parents.

Current Situation
Today, the perception of VET has quickly fallen, and in 2013, only 18 percent of students were enrolled in VET programs.* Part of this is due to the prestige of university—affluent families can afford the tutoring that is now required for students to pass the entrance exam and be able to attend college. Students from families who cannot afford these tutors simply have fewer options in higher education.

Read the full article on Education Week’s Global Learning blog. 

 

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

By Katie Fitzgerald in Uncategorized
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