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Tasks for Korean Universities in IT Talent Cultivation

Tasks for Korean Universities in IT Talent Cultivation

LEE Sung-HoRYU Ji-SeongKIM Jae-Won

Oct. 20, 2011

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Originally released on August 4, 2011

Competitiveness in global industry today is to a great degree determined by software. While this goes without saying in the IT industry, software has now become a make or break factor for every company involved in manufacturing.

Although it is more urgent than ever that Korean firms expand their workforce in software , it has become increasingly evident that Korea's universities are not presently up to the task. Faculty performance evaluation s in Korean universities focus primarily on research output , acting as a major disincentive to quality teaching . High student to teacher ratios and a lack of teaching assistants to support program development , research, and training , are further compromising the effectiveness of university IT education . Korea 's offering s in IT-related academia-industry programs are another area where it conspicuously lags, with university participation rates reaching only 32.1%.

In contrast, many top universities in the US meet industry demand by producing graduates that are well equipped with both basic theory and practical skills . Unlike Korean universities, US universities frequently revise their curriculum to reflect the latest trends in computer technology , and themselves play a lead ing role in developing new areas in the IT industry through active interdisciplinary cooperation. India also has many top universities that produce graduates who are well prepared to enter the software workforce.

In order for Korean universities to produce talent that can lead the IT industry in the future , the first priority is to enrich university education . To this end , universities need to focus on the demand s of the industries by establishing differentiated educational goals that consider both the academic level of the student body and the need s of future employers. Universities also need to provide a portfolio of courses that consider the needs of diverse industr ies . Universities will also need to increase the number of teaching assistants, expand their infrastructure for experimentation and practical training, more actively utilized the experience of industry professionals, and modify current research-focused performance reviews to enable a stronger focus on teaching.

Second, fresh efforts need to be made to encourage IT start-ups and university-industry collaboration networks. As part of these efforts, companies can aid in establishing universities specialized in IT startups, as well as IT-MBA programs, while universities can strengthen incentives for faculty participation in startups and academia-industry collaboration. Both companies and universities will also benefit from the establishment of permanent university-industry exchange networks, including institutions like an industry advisory board that includes IT executives and working-level staff.

Third, a virtuous circle between university IT education and industry must be created. To this end, an IT capability certification system ( similar to the TOEIC test for English proficiency ) can be introduced to give preference to certified professionals, and to set evaluation standard s for the recruitment of new entrants on the basis of their IT job competencies. Internship programs need to be revitalized , with colleges recognizing them for academic credit and companies providing opportunities for college students to develop hands-on work experience .

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