Students may choose to pursue vocational education in vocational high schools, starting in grade eleven. These schools offer courses in agriculture, industry, commerce, home economics and maritime studies. Vocational high schools are in the process of changing to meet the growing demands for skilled workers in scientific and technological fields by creating new programs in these fields. About 27% of South Korean students are enrolled in school-based vocational and technical education. Of these students, 43% go on to junior college, and another 25% go on to university. The Ministry is currently revamping South Korea’s career education programs, as well as restructuring curriculum and pathways in vocational schools. Students are encouraged to identify their talents and aptitude at an early stage, and pursue career-centered learning throughout elementary and secondary school.
The Ministry is also in the process of updating curricula in conjunction with industry needs, placing a heavy emphasis on collaboration between businesses and schools and by making internships available to vocational students.
Lifelong education is defined in South Korea as any form of education outside of traditional schooling. Lifelong educational opportunities are categorized as either para-school, occupational or technical, and general or liberal. Para-schools include night classes for middle or secondary education, distance universities, industry-attached schools and civic schools. Occupational or technical education is offered at learning centers run by the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. General education is informal, and is supported by museums, public libraries, theaters, cultural centers and media campaigns.
The Ministry is currently working on a records and qualification framework for lifelong learning programs and encouraging universities to structure more classes for the adult learner. The goal is a Life-long Learning Account System, an online career management system that will record each worker’s various learning experiences, providing information for employers based on uniform standards. There is already a similar Credit Bank system in place, which allows people without formal higher education to accrue credits and ultimately degrees through various lifelong learning programs and courses.