Rushan Ziatdinov

The Korea Times recently reported about the results of a survey in which human resources officials at Korea's top 1,000 companies said they believe a drastic demographic shift will cause an economic plight in the near future, and among them, 45.8 percent said their biggest concern is labor supply.

While labor supply in manufacturing and agriculture can be solved through agreements with developing countries, attracting and retaining high-skilled talent is more challenging for Korea. Highly skilled talent always looks for better places for themselves and their families and can be more mobile. It is no secret that there are many countries in the world that would be interested in having more highly skilled talent — research-oriented engineers, postdoctoral fellows, research scholars, and professors.

So what can Korea offer to international high-level talent so that such people will come and work here, not somewhere else, and integrate harmoniously and peacefully into society? For example, why would a highly talented person from a leading country in terms of GDP based on purchasing power parity, such as China, the United States, India, Japan, Germany or Russia, come and work here? These are good questions, and they need to be addressed carefully, because it's very important for the bright future of the country, given the demographic issues it faces.

First of all, it is necessary to carry out a more systematic study of the needs of various organizations for highly qualified workers, as well as a forecast of the potential shortage of workers in all sectors and subsectors of the economy. Then it's important to better advertise available jobs by writing detailed job descriptions and specifications in correct English without mistakes. Every job advertisement is not only an advertisement for a job, it's an advertisement for an organization and an advertisement for Korea, so it should be written perfectly and attractively.

Unfortunately, portals such as https://global.hibrain.net/ and https://arjk.net/ do not contain too many English job advertisements from universities for global talent, such as https://jrecin.jst.go.jp/, a Japanese job portal for academics, which had 843 job advertisements as of May 31. Many jobs on the aforementioned Japanese portal require applicants to be able to give lectures in both Japanese and English, and probably overseas applicants would not be very interested in them due to lack of Japanese language skills.

In addition, there are more well-known international platforms such as LinkedIn, where Korean organizations can post their jobs globally. Nowadays, due to the increasing competition for talent, companies should train their headhunters to be more active and search for talent globally. I would also recommend all Korean consular organizations operate their websites and advertise various academic programs and events not only in Korean and the language of the country where they are located but also in English to attract foreign expatriate talent living there. Highly skilled people do not have a single nationality and can be found all over the world, often considering themselves as global citizens. I would also recommend developing various bonus programs for those who can bring highly skilled talent to the country.

More attention should be paid to supporting international families, including those who raise their children in Korea. Prestigious international schools are too expensive here, and this factor is very important in retaining highly qualified talent and improving demographics. There are some schools unofficially known as global schools where kids from multicultural families study, but the medium of instruction is mostly Korean, not English. International families pay taxes like all Korean citizens and have a right to quality education for their children. For migrant expatriate talents, a modern world-class quality education is impossible without extensive knowledge of today's language of science. One of the solutions would be to give them the right to bilingual education in both Korean and English.

Global competition for talent is intensifying. Despite some criticism, powerful neighboring countries such as Russia, China and Japan are developing various programs to attract global talent. China's Thousand Talents Plan, which grew out of the "Talent Superpower Strategy" in 2007, is the most prominent of China's more than 200 talent recruitment programs, according to the Science Journal (Shi et al., 2023). In Japan, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology launched the Global 30 project in 2009 to internationalize higher education in Japan and increase student mobility. Russia is also developing some academic programs to attract talent from overseas and even offers the opportunity to get one hectare (10,000 square meters) of free land in the Far East and Arctic to all its citizens and foreigners who are legally residing in the country.

According to an article published on the World Economic Forum (2023) portal, Switzerland, Singapore, and the United States are the top three countries in terms of talent competitiveness, and Korea is ranked 24th. Korea has highly developed infrastructure and industry, warm climate conditions, beautiful nature, highly developed transportation and medical systems, good education, good cuisine and is surrounded by water —what more does the talent need? Of course, the country should also continuously develop itself in various laws that will better protect minorities such as expatriate migrants and, in the near future, may become one of the most attractive, highly inclusive and happy places for global talent, at least in Asia.

In some other countries, even tourists can legally get married under the laws of the country they are visiting and spend their honeymoon supporting the budget of those countries. However, to my great regret, this is not the case in Korea. Not only tourists but also two foreigners from two different countries who legally reside in Korea and have their residency cards cannot have the same marriage certificate as two Koreans.

District offices accept the entire package of documents required for a marriage and issue two foreigners a certificate called "surijeungmyeongso." Korean citizens receive another certificate called "honinjeungmyeongso" (or marriage certificate). Automated translation of the term surijeungmyeongso is different to that of a marriage certificate: repair certificate (Google translation), certificate of repair (Papago), DeepL (certificate of repair). According to Clova AI, "the main difference between the two certificates is that "surijeungmyeongso is used to confirm the acceptance of an application or request, while (a) marriage certificate is used to verify an individual's marital status." Obviously, something should be improved here.

Rushan Ziatdinov is a professor of industrial engineering at Keimyung University in Daegu.

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Attracting high-skilled talent to Korea and supporting international families

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11.06.2024

Rushan Ziatdinov

The Korea Times recently reported about the results of a survey in which human resources officials at Korea's top 1,000 companies said they believe a drastic demographic shift will cause an economic plight in the near future, and among them, 45.8 percent said their biggest concern is labor supply.

While labor supply in manufacturing and agriculture can be solved through agreements with developing countries, attracting and retaining high-skilled talent is more challenging for Korea. Highly skilled talent always looks for better places for themselves and their families and can be more mobile. It is no secret that there are many countries in the world that would be interested in having more highly skilled talent — research-oriented engineers, postdoctoral fellows, research scholars, and professors.

So what can Korea offer to international high-level talent so that such people will come and work here, not somewhere else, and integrate harmoniously and peacefully into society? For example, why would a highly talented person from a leading country in terms of GDP based on purchasing power parity, such as China, the United States, India, Japan, Germany or Russia, come and work here? These are good questions, and they need to be addressed carefully, because it's very important for the bright future of the country, given the demographic issues it faces.

First of all, it is necessary to carry out a more systematic study of the needs of various organizations for highly qualified workers, as well as a forecast of the potential shortage of workers in all sectors and subsectors of the economy. Then it's important to better advertise available jobs by writing detailed job descriptions and specifications in........

© The Korea Times


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