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Vocational high schools in S. Korea teaching curriculum for Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies
Updated: 2019-07-22 14:46:40 KST
The students here are training to work in jobs that don't yet exist.
Enrolled in a technical high school, they're focusing on biohealth and chemistry -- a core sector that the country plans to grow in to a 50 billion dollar export market by 2030.

"Since I was little, I've wondered why injections and medical treatments have to be painful and inconvenient, so I became determined to develop new medical solutions of my own."

"Korean society has long valued academic prestige and rather conventional career paths. But with the rapidly changing job market and technological disturbances brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, alternative methods are needed to help nurture valuable skills and innovative mindsets."

Students here can earn a certificate in chemical analysis so they can start work right away instead of going to university.

"Our students could work in a wide-range of new jobs and roles in biochemistry, from quality control, tackling fine dust or harmful chemicals, as well as the development of new medicine and health solutions."

Another promising sector for future workers is Artificial Intelligence.

"Basically, in going forward, a lot of companies will need people with skills in AI, blockchain and cybersecurity, and PTECH offers exactly that education. We also teach the students, because they're so young, leadership skills, collaboration and problem solving."

This technical school in Northern Seoul, earlier this year, become Korea's first AI vocational school based on IBM's P-TECH curriculum.
The students undergo three years of high school and two years of college education in software development, machine learning and other AI-related disciplines.

"I'd like to work as an educator in AI. The courses are challenging but I will try hard."

"By the time our 52 students graduate, they'll have undergone more practical training than they would have at a four-year university -- thus well prepared for the new fields and jobs related to AI that don't even exist today."

The education ministry says it aims to boost the number of departments in specialized schools to 500 by 2022, to offer more specific training in breakthrough technologies like drones, fintech, biohealth and driverless cars.
But we need a culture change.

Observers say children, and more crucially their parents, must better understand the labor market's demand for practical and applicable skillsets rather than the formality of a four-year college degree.
Oh Soo-young, Arirang News.
Reporter : osy@arirang.com