Korea needs to groom more top scientists and engineers: report

Aggressive efforts by many nations to recruit science and technology talent have put the spotlight on Korea’s own workforce. New industries like green energy, robotics, biomedicine, and nanotechnology will require highly skilled personnel, but Korea is coming up short in these promising areas. New initiatives like Korea’s “10,000 Plus Plan,” and investments in basic research are trying to address these gaps.

Developing new growth engines is an urgent priority for economies around the world. This is prompting more attention to grooming and acquiring elite science and technology (S&T) personnel. Advanced countries and emerging economies alike are mounting efforts to foster personnel that can lead the next-generation growth engines of their economy.

Technology powerhouses, including Japan and Germany, have emphasized home-grown talent. In Germany, the “High-Tech Strategy (Die Hightech-Strategie fur Deutschand)”1 adopted in 2005 seeks to nurture expertise in 17 emerging high-tech industries, including space technology and energy. In contrast, the US and Singapore are investing in attracting top-tier foreign talent. The “American Competitiveness Initiative”2 focuses on promoting high-risk, high-return research and expanding the labor pool for research and development (R&D).

Korea is shifting its hiring of S&T personnel from leaders who can drive a “catch-up” business model to leaders who can pursue a “frontier” strategy that leverages next-generation industries. Through this, Korea hopes to stay ahead of emerging market rivals like China on the value chain, while catching up with existing technology powerhouses.

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