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Management Report

Management reports, briefs issued by Samsung Economic Research Institute

How Junior Colleges Can Succeed

How Junior Colleges Can Succeed

RYU Ji-Seong

Mar. 5, 2007

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In Korea, two-year junior colleges have played a pivotal role in producing skilled workers since the 1960s. In 2006, 180,000 junior college graduates, 84% of the total, found jobs.

To continue their success, junior colleges will need to address changing needs of small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), midsize companies, and newly emerging industries and competition from four-year universities.

Korea's junior colleges have long focused on developing technicians. However, changes in Korea's industrial structure have spurred a need for workers with different skill sets. Firms want "technologists," employees who can apply research or technologies to the shop floor and manage and supervise technicians. Junior colleges will need to make fundamental changes to their curriculum to respond successfully to the needs of firms.

Amid the shift in labor demand, four-year universities are developing their own vocational curriculum, threatening the job prospects of junior college graduates. Graduates of four-year universities already have grabbed a considerable number of jobs that typically would go to a junior college graduate. As a result, junior colleges that are lagging may come under greater pressure. In 2006, 42% of junior colleges had enrollment rates below 90%.

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