A mature student (center) attends a class with her younger peers at a vocational college in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province on April 2.
More and more young people are enrolling in vocational colleges amid a growing job shortage especially for university graduates. But many of them are also older people who seek qualifications for a job after retirement.
According to the Korean Council for University College Education early this month, the proportion of students aged 25 or older at 136 vocational colleges across the country rose from 9.3 percent or 64,444 in 2016 to 10.4 percent or 68,621 last year. This year, 5,756 are over 40.
Some 1,526 freshmen this year are graduates of four-year universities who returned to school to learn professional skills.
According to the council, demand for education among senior citizens is also rising. The most popular subjects among students aged 25 or above are nursing, optometry and social work.
This year, vocational colleges admitted 165,786 students overall, a decrease of 1,608, but a whopping 1.54 million people applied, up 108,600 in a year.
The main reason is the acute job shortage. In 2013, the employment rate for university graduates was 64.8 percent compared to 67.9 percent for graduates of vocational colleges. But that has switched from 69.8 percent for vocational college graduates to 62.6 percent for university graduates.
Hwang Bo-eun at the council said, "A growing number of students seem to be looking for practical skills that could make them more appealing to employers".
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"More Jobseekers Turn to Vocational Colleges"
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