While previous studies on human capital tend to focus on the skills of youth, this study broadens the perspective to focus on adult competencies. In Korea, the proportion of the young population is rapidly declining while at the same time, persistent increase in academic ability has reached its limit. In such a situation, empirically analyzing the skills of the Korean population and seeking future strategies is an important task. By focusing on the problems of adult skill levels in Korea, which has yet to be given sufficient attention in the public discussions on demographic change or low economic growth, this study aims to provide the basic information necessary to establish long term national strategies.
The PIAAC survey, conducted by the OECD on approximately 157,000 individuals from 24 countries (including 6,667 individuals from Korea), is a recent data set which measures literacy, numeracy and computer-based problem solving skills of adults who are between the ages 16 and 65. The data, however, has not yet been put to enough use in research. Therefore, this study will first bring forward key issues on Korean adult competencies through empirical analyses. Also, it will undertake empirical testing and policy research on topics pertaining to human resources of the public sector, military, and foreign workers, which carry significance for the future of the country. The importance of these topics have long been recognized and are in need of in-depth research, but it was difficult to do so thus far due to political reasons or lack of data.
The first chapter of this research investigates the problems of Korean adult competencies by empirically analyzing the PIAAC data. Based on this analysis, the following chapters investigate competencies of Korea's labor force and discuss future strategies for skill development. Specifically, the second and third chapters discuss the human resources of the public sector; the fourth chapter military manpower; and the fifth and sixth chapters deal with the foreign labor force.