1. Key insights and recommendations

Korea has been one of the fastest growing OECD economies in past decades, but economic growth has slowed down in recent years and has been further affected by COVID-19. Korea’s rapid transformation has relied on a well-educated population and a business environment that encourages innovation, world trade and integration in global value chains. The Korean economy recorded a 2.7% gross domestic product (GDP) increase in 2018 and renewed growth in 2019 (2%). Due to COVID-19, the economy contracted by 1.1% in 2020, which was the smallest decline across OECD countries. Assuming that there is no resurgence of the pandemic, the economy is projected to grow again by 2.8% in 2021 and 3.4% in 2022 (OECD, 2020[1]). Given that Korea’s rapidly ageing society is reducing the contribution of labour utilisation to economic growth, labour productivity growth will be an even more important driver of economic growth in the future (OECD, 2016[2]; 2018[3]). The important relationship between skills and productivity mean that developing and upgrading the skills of Korea’s population will be important for the country’s long-term prosperity and the well-being of its citizens.

Due to the wide range of actors with an interest and role in adult learning, effective governance arrangements – including collaboration across ministries and levels of government, stakeholder engagement and aligned financing – are essential for the success of adult learning systems. Effective government arrangements involve relevant government ministries and agencies at multiple levels, education and training institutions, individuals, employers, labour unions, among others.

A highly skilled workforce is critical for economic recovery and growth in Korea, and will help meet the challenges of a rapidly ageing society. Among OECD countries, population ageing will be the fastest in Korea, leading to a shrinking labour force. The OECD estimates that in 2050, for every ten individuals of working age in Korea there will be seven individuals not in the workforce. This is 20 percentage points above the corresponding OECD average (OECD, 2018[3]). The needs of a rapidly growing elderly population will lead to the expansion of healthcare and social services sectors. In Korea, workers are often forced out of firms around age 50 due to their relatively lower levels of skills and seniority based wages. A large share of older adults find themselves working in poor quality jobs with low and insecure earnings and little to no social protection. This contributes to the high poverty rates among adults aged 65 and over (46% compared to the OECD average of 13%) (OECD, 2018[4]). One key challenge for Korea will be to increase the life and job quality of older workers. It will be important to provide older adults with adequate opportunities to reskill and upskill through a strong adult learning system (OECD, 2019[5]) so that they can be better retained in the labour market and continue to contribute productively to the economy.

Technological change is affecting the nature of many jobs and the skills required. The OECD estimates that in Korea, about 10% of workers face a high risk of seeing their jobs automated, and another 33% will face significant changes in their job tasks due to automation (Nedelkoska and Quintini, 2018[6]). In addition, an estimated 20% of workers aged between 16 and 65 have moderate or significant training needs to prepare for the high risk of automation. At the same time, the digital transformation is creating new opportunities. Reaping the full benefits of digitalisation will ultimately depend on the ability of each country to develop a set of policies that help workers adapt to these changes and develop relevant skills to thrive in the digital world. The OECD Skills Outlook 2019: Thriving in a Digital World showed that most young people in Korea are equipped with digital skills, but that the share of older people (aged 55-65) lacking basic digital skills is relatively high (OECD, 2019[7]). Results from the Survey of Adult Skills (2012) show that below 5% of adults aged between 55 and 65 have good ability (proficiency at level 2 and 3) in problem solving in technology-rich environments, compared to nearly 65% of those aged 16 to 24 (OECD, 2016[2]).

The continuing expansion of international trade and global value chains also underscores the need for further adult learning. The general trend in OECD member countries, including Korea, is for low-skilled, routine tasks to be offshored, leading to the loss of jobs in developed countries and the corresponding gains in developing and emerging countries (OECD, 2019[5]). Over the last two decades, Korea has increased its participation in global value chains and specialised in technologically advanced industries (OECD, 2017[8]). Due to automation and globalisation, adults in Korea need to continuously upskill and reskill in order to move from low-skilled and routine task-based jobs to high-skilled and non-routine task based jobs.

COVID-19 is interacting with megatrends in complex ways. The increased use of digital solutions to overcome social distancing and quarantine requirements has accelerated digitalisation in learning and work in Korea. The need for production processes to be more resilient to supply shocks is incentivising Korean businesses to embrace automation and new technologies in their activities. As a consequence, new skills are required in the labour market and society, and individuals need to more frequently update and improve their set of skills. Skills are vital in enabling all individuals in Korea to adapt and eventually thrive in response to changing economic, social and environmental conditions in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.

Skills are critical to reduce Korea’s high level of inequality, which is being further exacerbated by COVID-19. Despite impressive economic growth in past decades, Korea has the third highest relative poverty rate and the seventh highest income inequality across the OECD (OECD, 2020[9]). COVID-19 has further increased inequalities, as disadvantaged groups have been particularly vulnerable to the economic and social ramifications of the pandemic. Non-regular workers1 have been more likely to lose their jobs than regular workers and have less access to adult learning opportunities to support their transition to other jobs. Older workers, many of whom work in small businesses, have struggled to acquire the necessary digital skills to effectively use online platforms and other digital tools to telework. Women in general, and mothers in particular, have had relatively less time to acquire new skills for, and effectively participate in, remote working in light of their additional care responsibilities (OECD, 2020[9]). Adult learning is critical to ensure that all individuals form and maintain the required broad set of skills to adapt in a changing working environment and succeed in a dynamic society. A strong adult learning system will not only boost Korea’s recovery today, but also build resilience and achieve long-lasting improvements for the future, without leaving any groups behind. For the definitions of “skills” and “adult learning”, please see Box 1.1.

The OECD Skills Strategy Dashboard provides an overview of the relative performance of countries across two dimensions of the OECD Skills Strategy: developing relevant skills and using skills effectively (as presented in Figure 1.1). For each dimension of the strategy there are a number of indicators, which are sometimes composite indicators made up of a number of other indicators, that provide a snapshot of each country’s performance (see Annex 1.A. OECD Skills Strategy Dashboard for indicators and method). The two dimensions are important to keep in mind when considering Korea’s adult learning system.

Although Korea is a top performer in developing the skills of its youth, the skills development of adults is less impressive (Figure 1.2). The latest 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) round shows a declining trend; however, scores for 15 year olds are still relatively high in reading, mathematics and science. Furthermore, student performance has relatively little to do with socio-economic background, which suggests that even students with socio-economic disadvantages are receiving the required support to perform well. While the 70% tertiary education attainment rate among young adults (25-34 year olds) in Korea is the highest among OECD countries, tertiary educated young adults have low levels of proficiency in foundation skills such as literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments compared to their peers in other countries. The share of adults in Korea with well-rounded foundation skills (i.e. levels 3-5 in literacy and numeracy and levels 2 and 3 in problem solving in PIAAC2) is also below the average. Participation in formal and non-formal adult education is slightly above average, but there is still room for improvement. Encouragingly, a comparatively high percentage of adults in Korea report a willingness to participate in adult learning. However, a significant share of adults report facing barriers to participation (OECD, 2016[11]).

Korea’s performance in using the skills of its adult population effectively is relatively low. As Figure 1.3 demonstrates, Korea’s employment and labour force participation rate is lower than the OECD average. Women are less likely to participate in the labour market due to the challenges of combining family and career responsibilities. Furthermore, there is a high share of tertiary educated adults who are not in employment, education or training (NEET), as many such graduates face challenges in entering the labour market. While Korea is a high performer in skills development, it is only an average performer in the extent to which it uses the skills of its adults. Although the use of reading and numeracy skills at work are slightly above average, the use of information and communication technology (ICT) skills at work is below average. In all these three skills domains, the use of skills at home is even weaker in relative terms. While the intensity with which skills are being used at work has increased for the younger generations compared to the older generations, there is still more that can be done. In PIAAC, relatively few workers report working in firms that have adopted high performance workplace practices (HPWP), which are practices associated with the more effective use of skills. Such practices include aspects of work organisation and job design (e.g. teamwork, autonomy, task discretion, mentoring and job rotation) and management practices (e.g. incentive pay, training practices and flexibility in working hours). Skills use could also be further stimulated by innovation. Skills use performance in Korea highlights the need to ensure that the adult learning system is well aligned with the evolving skills demands of the labour market and society.

Effective governance arrangements are the foundation for improving Korea’s performance in adult learning. The success of adult learning policies to improve the development of skills depends on the responses and actions of a wide range of actors, including government, students, teachers, workers, employers and trade unions (OECD, 2019[5]). Investing in skills is popular across different electoral and political constituencies as the benefits for economic development and social inclusion are broadly recognised. However, adult learning policy is more complex than many other policy areas as it is located at the intersection of education, labour market, industrial and other policy domains (Busemeyer et al., 2018[15]). Adult learning policies therefore implicate a more diverse range of government ministries, levels of governments and stakeholders. Governance should occupy a central position in adult learning policy to facilitate a concrete vision and longer-term strategy, and avoid the pitfalls of reactive policy making and uncoordinated investments in adult skills (OECD, 2020[16]).

The OECD Skills Strategy 2019 identifies four building blocks for strengthening the governance of skills systems (Figure 1.4) (OECD, 2019[5]):

  • Promoting collaboration, co-ordination and co-operation across the whole of government, horizontally across ministries, and vertically across national and subnational governments.

  • Engaging stakeholders meaningfully throughout the policy cycle, allowing them to play a role in policy design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation, while also building trust.

  • Building integrated information systems to mobilise data and improve data processing with the goal of enhancing management and evaluation processes.

  • Aligning and co-ordinating financing arrangements by matching funding with needs and diversifying sources of financing.

Adult learning policies are shared responsibilities between government and stakeholders. Higher levels of co-ordination, co-operation and collaboration have the potential to improve adult learning. The co-ordination of different policy areas is facilitated when there is a shared commitment and a clear vision that adult learning is a national priority. In the Inclusive Nation Social Policy Promotion Plan (2019-2022), Korea has established some medium-term policy goals, such as raising participation in adult learning (from 35.8% to 42.8%), adult vocational education and training (VET) (from 24.7% to 26%) and work-based learning in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) (from 7.9% to 14%) (Table 1.1). Other plans, such as the fourth Lifelong Learning Promotion Basic Plan, the third Vocational Skills Development Basic Plan for Innovation and Inclusive Growth, the Five-year Roadmap for Job Policy, and the State Management Five-year Plan have set specific goals for increasing the provision of adult learning programmes (e.g. adult learning centres, adult learning programmes for disabled citizens) and the number of beneficiaries in specific adult learning programmes (e.g. Lifelong Education Voucher users, literacy education participants).

Governments need to identify and engage with relevant stakeholders and encourage co-ordination between national and subnational authorities. Co-ordination efforts should be supported by the right institutions and through the appropriate formal engagement bodies, such as councils and committees. Formal engagement bodies allow stakeholders to participate in the policy-making process through providing feedback and suggestions. Such engagement processes ensure that policies benefit from the expertise and knowledge of stakeholders, have higher legitimacy, and are more likely to be implemented effectively. In Korea, several formal engagement bodies play an important role in adult learning (Table 1.2).

This report provides policy recommendations in four priority areas for the governance of adult learning in Korea. These priorities were selected based on close consultation with Korean experts and available literature. Expert opinions were collected through two rounds of background questionnaires, written input on selected topics, two missions of the OECD team to Korea, and two Korean expert visits to the OECD.

The priority areas identified by Korea in reviewing the governance of adult learning are:

  1. 1. Strengthening the horizontal governance of adult learning (Chapter 2).

  2. 2. Strengthening the vertical governance of adult learning (Chapter 3).

  3. 3. Strengthening stakeholder engagement in adult learning (Chapter 4).

  4. 4. Strengthening financing arrangements in adult learning (Chapter 5).

The governance building block on integrated information systems (see Figure 1.4 above) is embedded across the other four identified priority areas.

Having a strong adult learning system requires a co-ordinated effort across a range of government ministries. Horizontal governance refers to co-ordination between the ministries of the national government on adult learning policies. As adult learning encompasses the domains of diverse ministries, effective policy co-ordination across ministries increases the potential to improve skills outcomes (OECD, 2019[5]).

Creating a comprehensive long-term vision for adult learning is essential for clarifying roles and responsibilities, setting targets, and identifying adult learning policies for government and stakeholders to implement. A comprehensive long-term adult learning vision is currently lacking in Korea, and government officials report the frequent change of policy priorities set by the government as the second most important obstacle to their work. Although the Lifelong Education Act requires the consultation of all relevant ministries in the design of the Lifelong Learning Promotion Basic Plan, it does not require the engagement of stakeholders. Making stakeholder engagement mandatory in the process of developing an adult learning vision, and getting more stakeholders engaged by raising their awareness about the importance of adult learning, would foster an inclusive vision development process that is owned and supported by all relevant actors. The vision development process would also benefit from being guided by an evidence-based approach, so that proposed adult learning policies in the vision are more likely to succeed when implemented. An evidence-based approach could be fostered by having an adult learning research institute co-ordinate adult learning relevant research efforts and actively inform the vision development process.

As adult learning policies fall under the domains of many ministries, strong horizontal co-ordination is key to effective policy implementation. The Social Affairs Ministers’ Committee (SAMC), which is headed by the minister of education and includes senior representatives across eight other ministries, should play a greater role in co-ordinating adult learning policies. However, due to the broad mandate of the SAMC, its effectiveness in co-ordinating adult learning policies has been limited. Therefore, the SAMC’s co-ordinating role in adult learning policies should be supported by a working level co-ordination group to promote ongoing discussions among relevant ministries. Such a working level co-ordination group, composed of representatives of relevant ministries, could regularly discuss in-depth adult learning policies, facilitate the preliminary co-ordination of adult learning policies across ministries, and provide recommendations on adult learning policies for the SAMC to consider. The SAMC should be further supported with adult learning policy experts who could exchange adult learning policy information across relevant ministries, gather relevant adult learning policy research findings, prepare substantive input on adult learning for the SAMC to consider, and follow-up on any decisions. The two existing and relevant national adult learning co-ordination bodies – the National Lifelong Education Promotion Committee and the Employment Policy Deliberative Council – should also support and inform the work of the SAMC.

The dissemination and management of adult learning information needs to improve. The various online portals established by the MoE and the MoEL provide a wide range of information on adult learning opportunities and keep track of individual adult learning participation records. Both ministries are currently making efforts to consolidate adult learning information from various information sources under their auspices in an online portal (National Lifelong Learning Site [MoE] and Goyong21 [MoEL]). However, there is not enough co-ordination between the MoE and the MoEL across their respective online portals, which leads to inconsistent information and makes the access and usage of the portals more complex for end users. The information provided on the various online portals should be consistent and complementary. Introducing a single account to access the different portals would simplify accessibility and facilitate usage by making it easier for users to update adult learning participation information across portals. It would also create a unified track record of adult learning participation and make it possible to analyse more comprehensively adult learning participation to inform the design of adult learning policies. The provision of adult learning information should be complemented with customised counselling and guidance services, particularly for disadvantaged groups. The information provided by these services (e.g. Work-net, Career-net) also needs to be consistent, rely on the latest labour market data, and be tailored to individual profiles and needs (Korea, 2019[18]).

Multiple levels of government have roles and responsibilities in the design and implementation of adult learning policies. Strong vertical governance arrangements are necessary to co-ordinate respective roles and responsibilities across levels of government so that adult learning policies can be implemented effectively across levels of government and equitably across the country.

There are number of obstacles in Korea that reduce the quality of co-operation on adult learning policies across levels of government. Such obstacles include a lack of clarity about respective roles and responsibilities, conflicting interests, and insufficient dialogue about the design and implementation of adult learning policies. Co-ordination bodies such as Lifelong Education Promotion Councils and Regional Skills Councils consist of representatives from various government levels and are one of the main mechanisms to support co-operation across levels of government. The effectiveness of these bodies should be raised by introducing a legal mandate that strengthens their vertical co-ordination roles in facilitating knowledge transfer, identifying priorities, informing budget allocations, and fostering consensus and ownership for national adult learning reforms, such as the Lifelong Learning Promotion Basic Plan. Moreover, the effectiveness of the co-ordination bodies should be improved through establishing sectoral working groups on adult learning policies, which can prepare for and follow up on official meetings. If the attendance requirement in the bodies could become more flexible by allowing lower ranking government officials to replace senior government representatives when necessary, it would be possible for the body to convene more frequently and would provide more time for representatives to discuss in-depth adult learning policies and arrive at a consensus about what actions to take. Co-ordination bodies should also be equipped with sufficient human and financial resources, i.e. a permanent secretariat and an annual budget, in order to operate effectively.

There are large socio-economic gaps across regions in Korea, as well as significant adult learning participation and outcome gaps. In order to reduce these regional gaps, all subnational governments need to have sufficient and well-equipped government officials to implement adult learning policies effectively. However, there are significant regional gaps in the number of available government officials per inhabitant, the skill level of government officials, and the share of government officials recognised for their excellent performance. Existing staff mobility schemes should be expanded and adapted to make hard-to-find skills available, particularly for subnational governments with low capacity. Such schemes would provide professional development opportunities for government officials, promote peer-learning and disseminate best practices. Although a variety of general training options for government officials exist, more training options that address the specific and practical challenges of implementing adult learning policies should be provided. Co-operation among subnational governments in implementing adult learning policies should also be increased by raising awareness of the benefits of co-operation and providing greater financial incentives.

Effective stakeholder engagement is essential to support Korea’s performance in adult learning. The effectiveness of adult learning policies depends on the responses and actions of a wide range of actors, including a wide range of stakeholders. Engaging stakeholders allows for their expertise and knowledge to inform policies and raises their support for implemented policies (OECD, 2019[5]). Stakeholders should be given the opportunity to play a role throughout the entire policy cycle.

The awareness and capacity of government to engage stakeholders in adult learning policy making needs to be raised in Korea. A particular challenge for government officials is identifying the relevant stakeholders to engage, as stakeholders in Korea are not as well organised as in other OECD countries. For example, trade union and employer organisation density levels are among the lowest across the OECD. Government officials should conduct a mapping exercise to identify which stakeholders to engage, for what reason they should be engaged, and how they should be engaged. Existing training on stakeholder engagement from the National Institute for Lifelong Education and the Seoul Metropolitan City Government should be expanded and further developed to ensure that it raises the awareness and capacity of government officials to engage disadvantaged stakeholders (e.g. women, older adults, adults with lower levels of education and non-regular workers). Training should also raise the capacity of government officials to develop consistent and transparent indicators that they can use in evaluating stakeholder proposals, so that all proposals, regardless of who is submitting them, can be assessed in the same merit-based manner.

The awareness and capacity of stakeholders to engage with government in adult learning policy making also needs to be raised. Stakeholders often do not sufficiently engage with the government on adult learning due to a low awareness about the importance of adult learning in the long term relative to other topics such as wages and working conditions in the short term. Stakeholder organisations such as unions and employer associations are fragmented and have low coverage across the country, which makes it difficult for these stakeholders to communicate messages to government in one clear voice and reduces their bargaining power. Stakeholders should be provided with training to raise their awareness about the importance of engaging with government on adult learning policies and the processes through which they can engage. The government should consider supporting stakeholder groups, particularly those lacking financial resources and without a formal stakeholder organisation, to organise and represent themselves more effectively. The capacity of stakeholder organisations to participate in evidence-based dialogue with the government should be raised through internal research units in stakeholder organisations.

Although stakeholders are able to provide input throughout the policy-making process, the extent and quality of engagement should be raised. In a survey of stakeholders, only 23% responded that they had experience of expressing their opinions on the government’s policy issues or projects. Among those who expressed their opinions, 74% did so using online platforms. Given that disadvantaged stakeholders are less likely to use online platforms, online engagement efforts should be complemented with offline engagement efforts adapted to the specific needs and profiles of disadvantaged stakeholders to encourage their active participation. Existing stakeholder engagement initiatives, such as civic participatory service design teams, should be made available across the whole country. Besides providing input, partnerships between government and stakeholders in implementing adult learning programmes (e.g. Suwon Lifelong Learning City, Gwangju Job Creation Programme) should be expanded. When evaluating the effectiveness of such partnerships, sufficient time over several years should be allocated to give time for different initiatives to show results in adult learning programmes. When funding such partnerships, the government should also encourage stakeholders to work together through prioritising funding requests and proposals that involve more than one stakeholder. A public-private partnership unit specifically for adult learning policies should support the management of government and stakeholder partnership projects and facilitate the dissemination of best practices.

Formal stakeholder engagement bodies for adult learning should be reviewed to make them more effective. A variety of stakeholder engagement bodies for adult learning currently exist, for example local labour and management committees and sectoral human resources development councils. Given that a common challenge across most of these engagement bodies is the uneven representation of stakeholders, their membership should be revised to ensure the equal representation of stakeholders such as unions and employers. Due to the large number of engagement bodies, there are significant overlaps in terms of mandates and responsibilities across bodies. This duplicates engagement efforts and makes the process of engagement more inefficient, with bodies competing with one another. When engagement bodies cover similar issues on adult learning policies, better co-ordination between them should be supported and required by their respective line ministries. The effectiveness of bodies should be raised through forming working groups specifically on adult learning policies. The bodies should be regularly monitored and evaluated to inform decisions about consolidating or abolishing bodies that are unnecessarily overlapping, ineffective or no longer necessary.

A strong financing model in adult learning facilitates the effective co-ordination of funding sources and funding distribution. The total available funding for adult learning needs to be adequate to meet the diverse adult learning needs of society, employers and individuals. At the same time, the distribution of funding needs to be equitable to distribute the funds proportionately based on the ability of the beneficiaries to pay (OECD, 2019[19]). Those who can afford to pay more should receive less external funding, while those who are less well-resourced should be more financially supported. Given that the national government has the largest amount of available funds it should play an important role in ensuring the equitable distribution of funds for adult learning.

Subnational governments vary significantly in their available financial resources for adult learning policies due to varying revenue generating capacities and different transfer amounts received from the national government. The national government needs to play a greater role in particularly supporting subnational governments with fewer resources. Specific programmes by the MoE and MoEL, such as the Lifelong Learning City Programme and the Local-customised Job Creation Support Programme, support subnational governments to implement adult learning policies. However, since these programmes disproportionately reward subnational governments that already demonstrate high performance (e.g. adult learning participation rates), they may reinforce the gaps between strong and weak performers. In order to provide greater support to governments with fewer resources, additional characteristics regarding the capacity of subnational governments to meet adult learning needs should be taken into account in the funding allocation process. Adult learning funding for subnational governments with fewer resources should be further raised by allowing more flexibility in reallocating funding from general education to adult learning to meet rising demands due to population ageing. The reallocation of funds from general education to adult learning policies could be supported by increasing collaboration between subnational governments, which are mostly responsible for adult learning, and subnational offices of education, which are mostly responsible for general education.

The cost of participating in adult learning is a significant barrier for individuals, particularly disadvantaged groups such as adults with lower levels of education, lower levels of income and non-regular workers. Financial incentives such as loans, scholarships and study/training leave, and individual learning schemes (ILS) have been created to help individuals overcome the financial barriers to participating in adult learning. ILS such as the MoE’s Lifelong Education Voucher and the MoEL’s National Tomorrow Learning Card are considered suitable policy levers to reach the largest number of beneficiaries. ILS do not require repayment (in contrast to loans), demonstration of already high skills (in contrast to scholarships) and employer-support (in contrast to training leave subsidies). However, the existing schemes should be further improved by targeting them more to benefit disadvantaged groups. Complementary financial measures that cover the indirect costs of participation should also be available, especially for when disadvantaged individuals pursue long-term formal education programmes. Comprehensive counselling services on adult learning opportunities and relevant supportive financial incentives should be provided at flexible times and in a variety of formats tailored to the profile and needs of disadvantaged groups. In order to simplify overall access to ILS and reduce administrative burden, the management systems of the MoE and the MoEL schemes could be connected through a single user access account.


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The objective of the OECD Skills Strategy Dashboard for Korea is to present an overview of the performance of skills systems in OECD countries. It is the starting point for analysis of national skills strategy projects and allows the OECD and the national project team to identify the priority skills policy themes to be covered in greater detail in the report. Presenting the relative position of countries on key skills outcomes, the Dashboard provides a general overview of the Korean skills systems’ strengths and weaknesses. This annex describes the characteristics, presents the indicators and describes the underlying methods for calculating indicators.

The Dashboard is the result of internal consultation and analysis of core indicators used in OECD Skills Strategy projects. It presents a simple, intuitive overview of the outcomes of skills systems that is easy to interpret, and gives a quick impression of a country’s skills performance across the dimensions of the OECD skills strategy (“developing relevant skills” and “putting skills to effective use”). The Dashboard applies a broad definition of skills by presenting foundational skills, problem-solving skills and broadness of skill sets, and considers both economic and social outcomes.

The selection of indicators followed a process whereby a longlist of the most commonly used indicators in OECD Skills Strategy reports was gradually reduced to a shortlist of core indicators. This process built on the principle that the indicators describe the core outcomes of the different dimensions of the skills system, expressed in terms of level, trend, distribution and equity. The indicators need to be comparatively easy to interpret and based on OECD sources, with data as recent as possible.

To describe the relative position across countries, a score for each indicator was calculated ranging from 0 to 10, with 0 for the weakest performance and 10 for the strongest performance. This resulted in an indicator that allows comparisons between different types of indicator (e.g. averaging performance of literacy scores and educational attainment). The resulting scores were normalised in such a way that better performance results in a higher score. Subsequently, an unweighted average of the indicators was calculated for each of the aggregates, and these scores were then ranked. The final ranking was separated into five groups of equal size, ranging from top 20% performer to bottom 20% performer.


← 1. In Korea, non-regular workers are made up of three at times overlapping groups: 1) non-permanent workers, including those working on a temporary or fixed-term basis; 2) part-time workers, including those with 35 or fewer regular working hours per week; and 3) non-typical workers, including daily workers, contractors (either engaged for a specific task or paid on commission), temporary work agency workers, domestic workers and other such categories of workers with only week ties to the employer (OECD, 2018[4]).

← 2. Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, which produces the Survey of Adult Skills.

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