Skills, Training and Hierarchical Capitalism in South Korea


Skills and Training in Hierarchical Capitalism: The Rise and Fall of Vocational Training in South Korea” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2023.2168207) is a new article co-authored by Timo Fleckenstein of the Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics, Soohyun Christine Lee of the Department of European and International Studies, King’s College London, and Jaehyoung Park, also of the Department of Social Policy at LSE.


The abstract for the paper states:

From an economic model in which education and growth reinforced each other, South Korea has developed a pathological equilibrium holding back economic and social progress. Low labour productivity and skills mismatch undermine the economic prospects of the country, and sharp rises in inequality in an ever more dualised labour market erode social cohesion. Governments of different political persuasion have recognised these challenges, and they have thought to reinvigorate vocational education and training (VET). However, this article shows that large employers – which were at the heart of a segmentalist coalition between business and government when collective skills formation of the Developmental State was dismantled – continue to undermine any efforts of meaningful vocational skills formation.


It is argued that the country’s hierarchical production regime and, related to this, labour market dualisation provide the micro-foundations for successive failure in VET reform; and without challenging large employers’ dominant position in the Korean political economy and without addressing labour market dualism, the reform of VET policy can be expected to remain a futile endeavour.

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