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South Korea launches inaugural Innovative Growth Youth Talent Concentration Training Program

South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT and the Institute for Information and Communications Technology Promotion will hold the inaugural “Innovative Growth Youth Talent Concentration Training (IGYTCT) Program” from 11 June to 10 July 2018. 

The program aims to both address rising youth unemployment in South Korea by eliminating job mismatches via project-oriented software education for graduates and job-seekers, and nurture ICT talent in critical technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

According to a press release by the Ministry of Science and ICT, the IGYTCT Program is budgeted at 240 billion won for 2018.

The launch of the program was also preceded by extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders — a demand survey was conducted among  80 small-medium enterprises (SMEs) and 25 private educational institutions, and a poll was also held among 383 graduates and graduating university students. 

The contents of the IGYTCT Program are designed to reflect the feedback gathered from all consultative processes. Eschewing conventional classroom techniques for a project-oriented learning approach that blends professional mentorship with practical application, the IGYTCT Program consists of an intensive training regime of 1000 learning hours over 6 months. 

According to the Ministry of Science and ICT, more than 50% of the program will consist of project training by industry experts.

As part of the South Korean government’s efforts to nurture talent in critical technologies for the 4th Industrial Revolution, the IGYTCT Program will focus on the following 8 key aspects: artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain/fintech, Big Data, augmented and virtual reality, smart factory, autonomous transportation and drone technology. 

By designating these 8 aspects as core Industry 4.0 technologies and devoting public resources to nurturing human resources, it is hoped that the IGYTCT Program will help address South Korea’s South Korea’s potential shortage of skilled personnel in these fields.

In addition, the IGYTCT Program also serves as a platform for skills upgrading or retraining. Despite a shortage of manpower in many industries, a significant degree of skills mismatch in South Korea has resulted in high structural unemployment even among the country’s many university graduates.

South Korea has long grappled with the issue of rising youth unemployment. Since 2005, the employment rate of persons aged between 15 to 29 in the country have been decreasing and “remain(ed) at dismally low levels”.  In August 2012, youth employment stood at 7.8%; between July to September 2017, this figure had risen to a staggering 10.2% despite the Moon administration’s efforts in job sector recovery. This trend comes in light of steadily rising college admission rates in South Korea, and critics have pinpointed the severe inflexibility of the country’s labor regime as the root cause of persistently high youth unemployment.

The IGYTCT Program will be overseen by a consortium of domestic and foreign educational institutions and research institutes as well as large and small enterprises. As an industrial-academic partnership, the convergence of industry expertise and pedagogical innovation is expected to boost employment and enhance curriculum development. 

To further ensure successful promotion of the program, the Ministry of Science and ICT has also established a cooperative ecosystem between 9 government ministries and agencies, including the Korea Agency for Infrastructure Technology Advancement (KAIA) and Creative Economy Innovation Center (CCEI).

The selection process for IGYTCT Program trainees is expected to conclude by the end of August 2018, and training will officially commence from early September onwards. The Ministry of Science and ICT expects a total of 1200 trainees to graduate from the program and enter the workforce by February next year, and has announced that it will invest a total of 108 billion won over the next four years, with a target of training 5400 talents across all 8 core aspects.

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