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Korea's skills snapshot


Developing the relevant skills

  • How well does Korea’s education system perform? In the 2009 PISA tests of 15-year-olds, Korea is among the top performing OECD countries in reading (rank 2), mathematics (rank 4) and science (rank 6).1
  • Does Korea invest enough in education and training? Korea spent 8% of its annual income on education in 2009, compared to the OECD average of 6.2%.2
  • How much are Korean citizens undertaking further education? In 2008, 26% of Korean citizensparticipated in continuing non-formal education compared to the OECD average of 34%.3
  • How equal is access to opportunities for further training in Korea? In 2007, 39% of people aged 25-64 with a tertiary-level education participated in formal and/or non-formal education, compared with 17% for people in the same age group with below upper secondary education.4 

Supplying skills   

  • Is there scope to improve skill utilisation in Korea through strengthening labour force participation? In 2011, 77% of people aged between 25 and 54 were in the labour force, compared to an OECD average of 81%.5 The participation rate for prime-age women (aged 25-54) is below the OECD average at 63% in 2011 (OECD average 71%).6   
  • To what extent are Korea’s older workers supplying their skills to the labour market? In 2011, 63.7% of people aged 55 to 64 were in the labour force, compared to an OECD average of 57.8%.7

Using skills

  • How smooth is the transition from school to work for Korea’s youth? The employment rate of Korean youth in 2011 was 23%, compared with the OECD average of 39.3%.8 In 2010, the unemployment rate of Korea’s youth was 9.8%, a relatively low rate compared with the OECD average of 16.7%.9
  • Are the qualifications of Korea’s workers well matched with the requirements of their jobs? In 2005, 26% of Korea’s workers were over-qualified for their jobs (against theOECD average of 25%), and 29% were under-qualified (against the OECD average of 22%).10Over-qualified (under-qualified) workers are those who have a higher (lower) qualification than the most common qualification of all other workers in the same occupation.


Key recommendations from the OECD Skills Strategy

A country can develop the relevant skills by encouraging and enabling people to learn throughout life; fostering international mobility of skilled people to fill skills gaps; and promoting cross-border skills policies.

A country can activate the supply of skills by encouraging people to offer their skills to the labour market and retaining skilled people in the labour market.

A country can put skills to effective use by creating a better match between people’s skills and the requirements of their job and increasing the demand for high-level skills.

For more information, see the:

OECD Policy Map on Skills | OECD Skills Strategy | Skills Strategy: Overview

Watch this video on strong performers in Korea


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