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Social Development

Enhancing Korea's work competency

: Focusing on problem-solving skills
  • Enhancing Korea's work competency
  • Korea Development Institute
  • [Sejong] : Korea Development Institute
Resources Content Information Item Table
Title Enhancing Korea's work competency
Subtitle Focusing on problem-solving skills
Author Korea Development Institute
Publisher [Sejong] : Korea Development Institute
Publication Date 2017 - 07
Material Type Video
Country South Korea Holding Korea Development Institute
Language English License


As Industry 4.0 rapidly draws near, problem-solving skills have risen to the fore as a vital future competency. Problem-solving skills refer to “An individual’s capacity to engage in cognitive processing to understand and resolve problem situations where a method of solution is not immediately obvious.” According to the Survey of Adult Skills, conducted by the OECD, Koreans are above the OECD average in terms of reading, writing, numeracy and ICT skills, but, their ability to apply their skills to solve problems is severly lacking. So, what are the reasons? First, there are insufficient opportunities to obtain professional skills required in problem solving. In Korea’s case, the number of those who have experienced learning by doing is far below the OECD average, implying that there is a lack of education and training opportunities in the workplace. Second, Korea’s work practices lack communication and collaboration. Collaborative and communicative work practices are closely linked to the use of problem-solving skills. However, there is a severe lack of interaction at Korea’s workplaces, that includes both influencing and cooperative. And lastly, Korea has a dual labor market, which makes it difficult for workers to fully utilize their problem-solving skills. In an unstable employment relationship, workers are less motivated to use their full capacity, while employers are less willing to provide sufficient opportunities for training and education. These tendencies are very evident in Korea, with clear discrepancies between regular and temporary workers in terms of the use of problem-solving skills and participation in education and training programs.

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