Korea's IT venture industry outgrows personnel pool

Seoul, Jan 26 (Asia Pulse) - Over 200 IT venture companies have been createdeach month for the past 20 months in South Korea, making the country the world'sbiggest incubator of venture firms after the United States with an estimatedfigure of 5,500. The availability of human resources, however, is lagging far behind the speedof growth.

Seoul, Jan 26 (Asia Pulse) - Over 200 IT venture companies have been created each month for the past 20 months in South Korea, making the country the world's biggest incubator of venture firms after the United States with an estimated figure of 5,500.

The availability of human resources, however, is lagging far behind the speed of growth. Money is no longer a problem for the industry, with whole-hearted support coming from the government, large corporations and the financial sector.

Industry watchers and insiders all say a lack of qualified personnel is the biggest problem and challenge for the industry. There are more job offers than seekers and there are also only a few among job-seeking candidates considered qualified.

Industry sources say venture companies are growing bigger every day from stock gains and funding from various sectors and seeking new ventures in order to stay competitive. But many of their projects are up in the air due to a lack of experienced professionals in the information technology field. "Unlike Silicon Valley, where capital and labor grew hand in hand, Korea's IT industry grew too fast, a reason behind its current abnormal shape," said Park Heung-ho, president of software company Namo Interactive.

College graduates are grabbing most of the positions at venture start-ups due to a shortage of experienced and qualified IT specialists. Venture companies are in a heated competition in luring employees from large companies as the latter are the only source of personnel.

Stealing staff from venture rivals is also becoming more common, producing skyrocketing scouting costs and spending on recruitment. "We have turned into a venture training academy," a Samsung senior executive complains, noting many active in the venture industry are former Samsung Group employees. But even staff "stealing" is now harder as large companies are offering various incentives in order to retain employees. "We spend a great portion of our gains and funding on recruitment when we could be spending the money on research and development," Chon Jae-wan, president of Freechal says. "We have the idea but we cannot materialize it due to a lack of capable manpower. It is inevitable for us to spend a lot on people.

"Many insiders voice worry over quality growth of the industry due to a lack of skilled personnel. "We are incapable of developing global items due to a lack of engineers and specialists in our field. We are just busy catching up with the global trend," says Daum Communications President Lee Jae-woong.

Industry insiders and experts demand greater training and education programs and opportunities to generate IT experts among college graduates and young people. They also suggest the government encourage universities, research institutes and the private sector join hands to create joint venture projects and nurture experts in the field. "A digital society depends on labor. We need systematic infrastructure to foster talented human resources," Chon of Freechal says. "Without radical investment in education to train and foster experts ready for the digital age, the venture boom may only prove to be a bubble."

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