Climate crisis, digital transformation ‘vocational education’ union must participate

It was argued that unions should be given the opportunity to participate in vocational training programs to cope with changes such as the climate crisis and digital transformation. It is pointed out that labor-management joint training should also be revived so that the union can directly participate in vocational training, and in particular, it is necessary to make efforts in connection with industry-specific human resource development councils or local training institutions to conduct vocational training centered on industry-level unions.

On the 9th, the Korea Vocational Competency Research Institute published a research report on ways to enhance union participation in vocational training governance with these contents.

I know the need for vocational training, but my priorities are pushed back

Domestic unions’ perception of vocational training is complex. As a result of the research conducted by the research team on 271 workers, including 155 union chairpersons, 19.6% of the respondents selected the development of workers’ vocational skills when asked about the agenda in which the Korean union should be involved (3rd priority repeated responses). It is the lowest ranking excluding others (1.8%). Employment stability 75.3%, wage increase 36.2%, and worker welfare system improvement other than wages 34.7% took precedence over vocational competency development.

A striking point is that when asked how important a worker’s job competency (skill) is for the maintenance and expansion of worker’s wage level, worker’s employment stability, worker’s job change and turnover, and worker’s welfare improvement, the response was generally high that it was important. Recognition that job competency is important in four fields was shown to be 4.22, 4.31, 4.05, and 3.94 points, respectively (the closer to 5, the more important). When asked whether the union should participate in the development and implementation of the vocational competency development policy, the respondents who already participated at 4.43 points and those who did not participate at 4.07 points were both high.

Contrary to perception, actual participation is low. First of all, the awareness of users and local organizations participating in governance is low. An official from the local labor-management and civil affairs council said, “The reason (members) joined the union is whether the union chairman is good at negotiating with the company to get a lot of wages. He said, “The chance of taking the chair again increases when you put more life and death on your wages) and gain the trust of the union members in that way.”

Growing field demands, the government must expand opportunities for participation

It is also pointed out that it is a prejudice that the labor community is not interested. A union official who interviewed the researcher said, “The more you go to the field, the more demand it will be in the manufacturing and service sectors such as the auto parts industry.” Nevertheless, the need to expand labor rights is still greater, so it has not been ranked as a priority. The research team explained, “The negotiation of re-education itself presupposes dismissal, which is the traditional agenda of the union.

The researchers argued that, first, unions should increase the channels through which they can participate in vocational training and raise funds. First, the government-supported joint labor-management training should allow the union to first gain experience related to vocational training, and further, allow the union to participate in the government’s vocational training program as a business unit. The research team emphasized, “Compared to the union leading vocational training, it is effective in reducing the burden and gaining experience in vocational training in stages.”

He also pointed out the need to raise funds according to the labor-management agreement to support the union’s participation in the vocational training project. The research team said, “In 2002, the Economic and Social Development Tripartite Committee (currently the Economic, Social and Labor Committee) agreed to introduce funding for workers’ learning, but no specific plan was decided. We need to emphasize the need.”

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