The story of Korean education over the past 50 years is one of remarkable growth and achievement. Korea is one of the top performing countries in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey and among those with the highest proportion of young people who have completed upper secondary and tertiary education.
The productivity level in services relative to manufacturing is particularly low in Korea, dragging down economy-wide labour productivity, which is significantly below the average of the upper-half of OECD countries.
Korea has achieved robust economic growth relative to other OECD countries since the financial and economic crisis, but its growth prospects are burdened by high levels of household debt and, in the medium term, rapid population ageing.
Education at a Glance 2013 - Country notes and key fact tables
In Korea's dynamic labour market, job displacement (involuntary job loss due to firm closure or downsizing) affects many workers over the course of their working lives. Some workers are more vulnerable than others to this risk and may face long periods of unemployment/inactivity after displacement, particularly if their skills are not well-matched to emerging job opportunities. Even when they find new jobs, displaced workers tend to be paid less, have fewer benefits and are more likely to be overskilled than in the jobs they held prior to displacement. Helping displaced workers get back into good jobs quickly should be a key goal of labour market policy. To achieve this goal, Korea needs to increase resources devoted to re-employment programmes, such as job-search training and job matching, to improve their performance and better target those who need the most help. Existing training programmes need to be revised to ensure that people are obtaining skills that will help them find work. The social safety net also needs to be strengthened to lower the personal and societal costs of displacement, notably by improving the coverage of unemployment benefits.
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Gains in female education attainment have contributed to a worldwide increase in women’s participation in the labour force, but considerable gaps remain in working hours, conditions of employment and earnings. More specific data for Korea are available in this country note.
An aid recipient less than two decades ago, Korea is now a donor and sharing its experience of how to use development co-operation as a catalyst to promote long-term sustainable growth in other countries.
Korea, the world’s thirteenth-largest economy and the seventh-largest exporter, is an energy-intensive nation. In 2008, the country adopted a long-term “green growth” strategy to foster economic development by means of low-carbon technologies and clean energy; since then, the government has implemented many policies to support these goals.
In 2012, Korea announced an emissions-trading scheme -- the first of its kind in Asia -- which will be implemented in 2015. This represents a major step towards achieving its target of a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Strong energy efficiency policies have been developed to complement the emissions-reduction target. Korea has made efforts to enhance energy security by taking measures to diversify energy sources, reduce the use of fossil fuels and foster the development of renewable energy alongside the expansion of its nuclear energy programme. Government expenditure on energy-related RD&D is among the highest in the OECD.
Progress in some sectors has been slower, and the lack of a clear, long-term vision for its electricity and natural gas markets is one of the greatest energy-policy challenges facing the Korean government. Energy markets are dominated by incumbents and have been slow to open up to competition.
This review analyses the energy-policy challenges facing Korea and provides sector-based assessments and recommendations for further policy improvements. It is intended to help guide the country towards a more secure and sustainable energy future.
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OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training: A Skills beyond School Review of Korea