Liberals arts grads look set to remain jobless

Posted on : 2015-12-16 18:12 KST Modified on : 2015-12-16 18:12 KST
Government projections show oversupply of arts grads, undersupply of engineering and electronics majors

It looks like South Korean netizens will have to keep using the online slang term “munsonghamnida” - an abbreviation of a Korean sentence meaning “Sorry I’m a liberal arts major” - as a self-deprecatory nod at the difficulty of finding a job. South Korean government projections show that the job crunch for students in the humanities, social sciences, and education will continue for the time being.

During a cabinet meeting on Dec. 15, South Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labor and the Korea Employment Information Service (KEIS) presented its projections for workforce supply and demand for each university major between 2014 and 2024. According to its projections, 790,000 more students will graduate from university than the total demand for jobs over the next 10 years.

When examined in detail, the figures show a drastic mismatch between the number of graduates in the areas of social sciences, education, and the humanities and the demand for jobs in these areas.

Over the next 10 years, 840,000 students will graduate with social science degrees at four-year universities, while industry will only have jobs for 623,000 of them, leading to a surplus of 217,000, projections show. There is also projected to be a surplus of social science majors at vocational schools of around 228,000.

Education is another major in which there will be more graduates than there are jobs, with a surplus of 120,000. This appears to be caused by a decrease in school-age children and teenagers. There will also likely be a shortage of jobs in the humanities (101,000) and natural sciences (56,000).

In contrast, while engineering departments at four-year universities will be producing 754,000 graduates over the next 10 years, the industry will need 969,000 engineers, meaning there will be 215,000 more positions than graduates to fill them.

In terms of individual majors, the supply of graduates at four-year universities will greatly surpass the demand for jobs in the areas of management and economics (122,000), secondary education (78,000), social sciences (75,000), language and literature (66,000), and biology, chemistry and the environment (62,000).

The opposite was the case - more jobs than graduates - for machinery and metal (78,000), electrical engineering and electronics (73,000), architecture (33,000), chemical engineering (31,000), and agriculture, forestry and fisheries (26,000).

Between 2014 and 2024, it was projected that 3.02 million people would graduate from four-year universities, while 1.73 million would graduate from vocational colleges. At the same time, there would only be 2.7 million jobs for graduates of four-year universities and 1.26 million jobs for graduates of vocational colleges.

This means that, over the course of 10 years, there will be 321,000 surplus graduates at four-year universities and 471,000 surplus graduates at vocational colleges.

“Our analysis shows that there will be more university graduates in the areas of humanities and the social sciences than companies need. We will make an effort to minimize the shock of the mismatch in jobs through aggressive labor market policies,” said an official at the Education Ministry.

By Noh Hyun-woong, staff reporter

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