New horizons in global talent development: future of Korean universities
By Yeou In-cheon
As AI and ChatGPT drive work automation and staff reductions, the talent shortage issue is becoming increasingly severe in Korea and globally. In May 2023, Forbes reported that 77 percent of global enterprises are struggling to find talent, a more than twofold increase from 38 percent in 2015, marking a 17-year high. According to research by global talent and organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry, the global talent shortage is predicted to reach 85 million by 2030, potentially leading to an unrealized annual revenue of about 8.5 trillion dollars. This scenario, along with the advancement in IT technology, will increase the demand for highly skilled professionals, presenting an opportunity for foreign student development programs in Korean universities. While the global talent shortage issue extends beyond numbers, Korean universities can play a significant role in nurturing foreign students into global talent. Various Korean universities are already encouraging foreign students to take major courses in Korean through Korean language education, but education programs tailored only to domestic situations may have limitations in fostering global talent capable of meeting the demands of the AI and ChatGPT era.
For a sustainable admission of foreign students and the realization of global talent development, employment opportunities for foreign students in the global market should be recognized as a critical issue. Of course, providing employment support programs for foreign students and strengthening employment linkage with Korean local companies to offer employment are straightforward solutions. However, to support employment in the global market, the following measures need to be explored:
Firstly, recognizing the necessity of educational program collaborations with overseas universities to enhance the global competitiveness of foreign students is imperative. Joint master's and doctoral global programs between Korean and overseas universities will enhance foreign students’ academic perspectives and global competitiveness. For instance, Calvin University is implementing a joint degree program with Cardiff Metropolitan University in the UK. Additionally, Calvin University graduates can complete an MBA program at East London University in one year regardless of their undergraduate majors, receiving positive responses from foreign students seeking to focus on their studies and employment in a short period.
Secondly, as English continues to serve as a global lingua franca, the expansion of English courses in major programs is emphasized. As of 2023, Calvin University is enhancing the competitiveness of students of various nationalities in the global job market by offering 100 percent English-taught curricula in all degree programs.
Lastly, establishing departments and courses targeting global employment to innovate the university education model is necessary. In line with the changing global market demand and considering the fourth industrial revolution and potentially growing industries, the development of departments and courses is crucial. For instance, while the pet industry is expanding in various fields domestically, academically it remains in the initial stages. Also, with the growth of Korean wave and the convergence of culture and economy creating new values, academic research and investment in these new fields will expand global employment opportunities not only for foreign students but also for Korean students.
As mentioned, to nurture talents at the level demanded in the global market, Korean universities must play a significant role in supporting the knowledge and skill development of foreign students. Through this, Korean universities, despite facing challenges such as decreases in student population, can contribute to addressing the global talent shortage issue, attracting foreign students, and laying a new foundation for the development of Korean universities.
The writer is a professor at the International Education Institute, Calvin University.
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