KDI FOCUS Mismatches in the Labor Market for College Graduates: Focusing on Field-of-Study Choice 2020.06.09
- | 관련정보 |
50% of Korea’s university graduates choose jobs that are irrelevant to their majors. To find out, KDI conducted a study to examine whether there are restrictions to choosing a major. Let's take a look.
- Joseph Han, Fellow at KDI
● Go to related report
- Mismatches in the Labor Market for College Graduates: Focusing on Field-of-Study Choice
- | 스크립트 |
10% of jobs will change in the next ten years due to automation.
50% of Korea’s university graduates choose jobs that are irrelevant to their majors. Why?
To find out, KDI conducted a study to examine whether there are
restrictions to choosing a major. The results found that the most direct obstacle students face when choosing a major is the admissions quotas that are applied to universities. Universities in the capital area are subject to an overall admissions quota that makes adjusting the number of students in a major difficult.
In fact, while universities in non-capital areas are able to adjust their enrollment limits according to the popularity of a major, those in the capital area are restricted by the quota regulation.
When only the major itself is considered, entering into a university in a non-capital area is a reasonable option.
But, due to the university hierarchy, students find themselves torn between university and major, and in most cases, university wins. Meanwhile, another analysis was conducted to examine the employment stability and 20-year income of graduates by major. The results found that graduates with degrees in medical sciences and education had higher employment stability and incomes than their counterparts in other majors despite having similar admissions scores. Of course, as much as the jobs in these fields deal with life and education, a system is needed to maintain the level of expertise, and a certain level of income and security should be guaranteed. But, as the gap with other jobs widens, a tendency for students to disregard their capabilities and flock to these respective majors may arise.
Another obstacle is that students lack information on what jobs they could have, and how much they could earn with a degree in a certain major. When the expected future income of freshmen and the actual income of graduates were compared at the department level,
there was little difference overall, but the expectations of students in natural sciences, and arts, music and physical education majors were relatively higher. It was found that students have insufficient information about the labor market as most rely on family and peers for advice. Another obstacle is that students have to select their majors at the same time. According to a survey, three out of ten students wished to change majors, with students in humanities mainly wanting to transfer to education, and those in natural sciences wanting to transfer to medical sciences. In particular, the smaller the admission units were of a major or college, the more the students regretted their choices. The results also show that student had bigger regrets as they based their high school field choices more on university ranking or what others were doing, rather than aptitude. Because students are forced into making an important decision at an early time without having a basic understanding of their aptitudes and career paths, too many choose majors that are unsuited to their abilities.
An overhaul of the overall education system is urgently needed to enable students to better select their majors and occupations in a rapidly changing world. Firstly, the admissions quota in the capital area should be partially lifted and the quotas for health and education should be reexamined to see if they are appropriate for the times. Also, career education must be strengthened, which entails obligating schools to provide students with sufficient time to explore their career options as well as objective information on income and other areas in addition to the employment rate of each major.
Finally, students who have decided on their paths early and those that have not should all be given the same consideration. In high school, the range of compulsory subjects should be wide enough, and meaningful intensive courses should be provided, while at university, the range of major choice needs to be expanded and the timing of selection also needs to be flexible.
□ The intense major-occupation mismatch is attributed to difficulties in adjusting admission quotas within universities, insufficient labor-market information at the department level, and uniform timing of decisions on college majors. To cope with the rapidly changing technological and industrial landscapes, efforts are needed to make meaningful improvements in quota regulation, career education, and university-level curricula.
- The accelerating pace of progress in technology and industry has highlighted the need for change.
- The mismatch between occupation and major in Korea nears 50%, the highest among the surveyed OECD members.
- Total student quotas for universities in the capital-region serve as a significant constraint on the adjustment of quotas for respective majors.
- The gap in income and stability resulting from student quotas for special majors has incurred a herd behavior towards certain majors.
- The expected income of freshmen from four-year universities is similar to the actual average income of graduates, but this masks heterogeneity across college majors.
- Many students struggle with regret over their forced decision between liberal arts and natural sciences in high school and their major in university.
- A partial lift of the enrollment control is needed for capitalregion universities while regular reexaminations are conducted of the appropriateness of student quotas for special majors.
- To reinforce career education, a semester dedicated to careers is needed on a more substantial scale. In addition, more teachers should be assigned, and information on the performance of the labor market at a department level should be provided.
- Policies concerning the timing of college major choices must give proper consideration to both students who decide on their career path early and those who remain undecided.
- Under the principle of autonomy, more encouragement is needed to broaden college major choices.
Ⅱ. Constraints on Field-of-Study Choice in Korea
Ⅲ. Suggestions for Institutional Improvements
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