Earning a humanities degree lowers your chances of landing a full-time job, compared to other majors, according to statistics from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST). Those majoring in languages, literature, philosophy and religious studies had a 68.6 percent chance of finding work in April 2009, compared to engineering majors at 77.7 percent.
Humanities majors also made up the largest proportion of part-time workers, 49.8 percent, according to the ministry.
To overcome this reality, the Lee Myung-bak administration announced on Feb. 18 that it would provide vocational training for unemployed humanities graduates. The program is run cooperatively by the MEST and the Ministry of Labor (MOLAB). It seeks to establish a database of liberal arts students who wish to participate, and support them with vocational training through a national Job Center and career support offices at universities.
According to MOLAB’s news letter, the program will eventually provide personal assistance to unemployed graduates who want vocational training. It will use 13,668 vocational skills training centers to accommodate all the graduates. Polytechnic colleges will also offer courses for desktop publishing and design and web programming.
However, as of late March, the program has not progressed.
“We have no concrete plan right now,” said Bae Sang-hoon, a deputy director in MOLAB’s human resource development division. “We have not completed our data base. I think we have to give it more time. If students want to join this program, they can contact the relevant offices at universities that handle the vocational program.”
Min Hyun-jung at the Ewha Career Development Center said if students want to participate in this program, they have to apply individually according to procedures posted on the center’s homepage (http://job.ewha.ac.kr).
Meanwhile, humanities majors find ways to make themselves more employable.
“Many of the students take economics or business administration as a double major,” said Professor Chung Hye-jung (History), the dean of the department of history.
Such is the case of Moon Da-sol (Chinese, 2).
“In order to find a job after graduation, I planned to double major in economics ever since I entered Ewha,”said Moon.
Kong Hee-jin (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, 3) majors in English Language and Literature. She is making herself more employable by participating in exchange student program in Sweden this September. Throughout the program, Kong is expecting to learn European culture and Swedish which would build up her specialty.
To overcome her handicap, Yoon Sook-jin (English, 4), who is in her final semester, developed other language skills such as Turkish and Spanish. Getting high scores on English proficiency tests like TOEIC and OPlc (Oral Proficiency Interview-computer), which most of companies adapt to measure English speaking proficiency, was considered a basic preparation.
Besides individual efforts, Professor Chung said the government should offer more support to liberal arts students. Chung said the approach to solving high unemployment should be different for humanities major.
“Liberal arts studies may not be so related to making a bunch of money at once. But it is a fundamental study involving creativity. Not everyone can be hired by a conglomerate. I think students should find their own way even if the fields of interpreting, writing and publishing do not earn much money,” said Chung.
Graphic by Gwon Sun-young
Source: The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology