Job Korea Predicts Gloomy Prospects for Tech Job Market

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Sunday, December 31st, 2006
New Year Interview / JobKorea

Supply far out strips demand, sources say

The prospect for the IT job market in 2007 is not so bright, Kim Hwa-soo, CEO of Job Korea, said.

According to a survey of 476 out of the nation's top 500 companies in terms of sales, the employment of IT companies is expected to decrease by 0.7 percent in 2007 from a year earlier.

The IT companies plan to employ a total of 3,084 workers in 2007, Kim said. Job Korea, a portal site for job seekers, and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry jointly conducted the survey.

Under the recognition that IT is the high-level knowledge-based industry, IT enterprises are striving to map out an effective manpower operation plan.

However, the unbalanced situation in the demand and supply of manpower in the IT industry still exists. Enterprises say that they cannot find proper IT workers, whereas colleges are in agony over a low employment rate of college graduates.

"To solve the unbalanced manpower shortage of the IT industry, the government needs to come out with a variety of support programs for the industry," said Kim.

Universities and enterprises, for their part, are also required to work out Internship programs to help students strengthen their ability and encourage a number of experts in the IT industry to participate in education programs, he said.

Trend of IT manpower

The current trend of IT the industry tells us that a tailor-made era has come for the IT manpower.

Actually, many universities are newly establishing IT industry-related departments to actively foster IT manpower and some large companies are directly participating in universities' programs to foster the talented people in the IT industry.

The boom to foster tailor-made talent is spreading to the government nowadays. "This trend is expected to gradually spread to the business and society circles as the demand for tailor-made talents is growing further," said Kim.

For instance, KAIST is operating a tailor-made course to foster software masters, which is aimed at producing software experts armed with creativity in keeping with the demand by industrial sectors.

Samsung Electronics is actively pushing ahead with establishing a semiconductor department at KAIST, called the military academy of semiconductors.

Information and Communications University (ICU) and Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) are jointly conducting a tailor-made course for IT doctors.

Noteworthy is that SAIT newly opens courses according to demand and most courses have been operated in a form of special lecture. ICU expects those who finished from these courses to lead the future IT industry.

"Besides, Daedeok.net, a professional education institution, has been conducting a tailor-made education for new employees in Daedeok Valley, receiving favorable responses from IT venture companies," said Kim.

In keeping with the tailor-made education boom, the Ministry of Science and Technology has decided to actively push for the project to foster tailor-made experts.

Related to this, the ministry concluded a business agreement with KAIST to foster tailor-made technicians and establish a Northeast Asia technology management course at the Techno Management Graduate School.

Following the Northeast Asia technology course, the ministry said it will expand the tailor-made education in the IT sector, including embedded software, digital contents and bio systems. "As such tailor-made education to foster IT experts have many merits, such a move is expected to spread widely in the near future," said the Job Korea head.

Suggestion to improve quality

The important issue of the domestic IT industry is to secure excellent and highquality IT experts. To do so, the quality of IT manpower should be upgraded. However, it is still insufficient with educational programs pushed by the government.

Meanwhile, a number of excellent IT experts are going abroad, escaping from the domestic IT industry. Accordingly, the government should extend institutional supports for stability of the domestic IT industry, he said.

"I think we can prevent the outflow of excellent IT manpower and solve the problem stemming from unbalanced IT manpower if the government maps out proper steps to let domestic IT experts enjoy the vision and stability here in the future," he said.

For effective use of existing manpower, the government also needs to establish a pool of talent or professional IT community and supply IT manpower to proper places and proper times according to companies' demands. In case of the United States, a number of IT specialists work as an independent consultant or free agent.

"Namely, from a viewpoint of the government, it needs to predict the overall IT demand by the industry and map out manpower supply plans based on the forecast," said Kim.

Along with this, the government should play a role as a medium linking IT companies and colleges to actively foster IT experts and satisfy enterprises' demands for high-quality manpower, he said. At the same time, universities should carry out educational reform to provide companies with proper manpower. For an example, IT educational curriculum should be operated in a more practical way than before.

International cooperation of IT manpower

Meanwhile, a growing number of Korean IT experts are advancing into foreign countries.

In the past, the employment ratio in overseas markets was high in such occupations as nurses and flight attendants. However, as Korea's IT technology has developed at a rapid pace, Korea's excellent IT manpower is advancing into foreign countries.

In the past, there were no difficulties for Korea's IT manpower to advance into the United States and Canada. However, they are converging into Japan these days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, which forced the US to strengthen entry procedures for foreigners.

In the meantime, the Japanese government opens its door widely to Korea's excellent IT manpower. In particular, Korea and Japan concluded a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for mutual certification of IT qualifications, widely opening doors for the employment of Korean IT specialists in the Japanese IT industry.

In fact, the employment of Korean IT experts brought up by a domestic professional educational institution in the Japanese IT industry has reached 80-90 percent these days.

On the other hand, the number of foreign IT experts operating in Korea is also increasing sharply.

According to the Ministry of Information and Communication, the number of foreign IT workers who came to Korea through the IT Card System that the ministry introduced in 2002 to ease the shortage of domestic IT professional manpower is increasing.

About half of the foreign IT manpower came from India. The remaining manpower consists of IT specialists from Vietnam, Russia, China, Japan, Belarus, the United States, Ukraine and the Philippines.

Such international cooperation in the IT manpower is expected to be activated further as the online employment exhibition for overseas IT professional manpower held in April in 2006 received good responses from domestic and foreign IT industries as well as jobseekers, Kim said.

Business achievements of IT industry in 2006

In 2006, meanwhile, the domestic IT industry achieved many tangible results under the ministry's catchphrase, Dynamic IT Korea.

Most of all, WiBro, the portable Internet developed by Korea's own technology, was adopted as the global standard, enabling KT and SK Telecom to start its commercialization service. Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics supplied mobile WiMAX networks and equipment to Sprint Nextel of the United States, the home of US communication.

In the cable sector, Korea achieved the super speed Internet network with a speed of 100Mbps. In the mobile service sector, the number of subscribers to mobile phones exceeded 40 million for the first time in 2006, opening an era where every person has a mobile phone.

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