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Gov't to increase student enrollment for vocational high schools

All News 15:03 January 20, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 20 (Yonhap) -- The government will expand the ratio of student enrollment for vocational high schools up to 30 percent of all high school students in the country in a bid to resolve youth unemployment.

In a report to President Park Geun-hye, the education ministry said Wednesday it will also decrease by 160,000 the enrollment quota of the nation's university students by 2022 by restructuring universities nationwide.

Instead, it will increase the enrollment of students majoring in technology and engineering sciences by 20,000 to meet the industries' requirements for more skilled manpower.

According to the education ministry, its plan to increase the enrollment ratio for vocational schools to 30 percent from the present 19 percent by the year 2022 is aimed at easing the severe unemployment rate for young adults.

The ministry said the increase of students for vocational high schools, such as "meister" schools, is necessary to produce more young and skilled jobseekers that can work at job sites at various levels.

South Korea currently has 39 meister schools aimed at giving students technical education and apprenticeships so that they can develop expertise in particular fields, including shipbuilding, mechanical engineering, semiconductors and medical equipment.

Boosting employment for young people has become a top priority for the Park administration, since youth unemployment is roughly three times higher than the national average.

In South Korea, nearly 80 percent of high school students go to college due to the widespread social practice of judging one's abilities based on one's academic background. This so-called academic inflation has been a chronic social problem in the country.

In this sense, the government's plan to utilize a more skilled workforce from vocational high schools is designed to tear down common social practices and promote the employment of high school graduates without college education.

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