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Was a Skill-Preferred Society Possible? Attempts to Unify the National Technical Qualification System in the 1970s and the ‘Paradox’

Jang, MiHyun 1

1재단법인 한국여성인권진흥원

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper aims to examine the process, meaning, and period/institutional characteristics of the change from the 1967 Skill Examination System to the 1970s National Technical Qualification System (NTQS). Specifically, it sought to examine how this system was perceived by the government, craftsmen, and companies that are consumers of licenses. Basically, NTQS was designed to enable both horizontal and vertical promotions in the technical field, from technician to engineer, and within technician. However, NTQS prioritized on the rank of engineers over technicians and linked the education level of high school and university graduates, so its attempt to relativize the education system was thus more likely to trigger the motivation to increase one’s educational level. The government, which could not force private firms to give preference to license holders, introduced special exception from the military service, preferential policies for higher education, and government-invested institutions and government-affiliated firms. Among them, the military service exception and preferential admission policy effectively encouraged youth craftsmen, who were subject to inspections at the time, to acquire a technician license. However, calling craftsmen Industrial Engineer in the sense of respecting them did not immediately elevate their social status. Although the government-led policies produced short-term effects, the social culture placing importance on educational level did not easily change as the government’s intent. Unless the work conditions of craftsmen or technicians in production improved and their rights were guaranteed, even if craftsmen were called technicians and they upgraded their skills and technical qualifications, this could not create a society giving preferential treatment to craftsmen. As a result, excellent youth craftsmen who enjoyed special exception from the military service and admissions privileges aimed to obtain a college degree rather than a promotion and did not agree that a skill-preferred society was realized even if an individual was no longer a craftsmen

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