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Korean Corporate Aid Projects Are Playing Off

Posted March. 05, 2007 07:05,   


A “Children’s English Speech Contest” was held at the Seoul YWCA auditorium in Myoungdong, Jung-gu, Seoul on February 23. Something unexpected happened at the contest, which included a total of 20 elementary school students from all over the country who passed a preliminary contest stage and were competing against one another.

Two students from Yemi Elementary School in Jeongsun-gun, Gangwon Province, which only has 80 students in total, were among the awardees (six students total), outnumbering their counterparts from the metropolitan area.

The power of Gangwon Province, which was on display in the contest, is not just an accident. It is the result of social contribution programs of companies designed to share knowledge and foster talent.

Employees from foreign universities teach English-

The Korea District Heating Corporation (KDHC) set up a sisterhood relationship with Yemi Elementary School, which was on the brink of being abolished due to a lack of students in March 2006. The KDHC has since been running various support programs for the school. The KDHC called four would-be contestants from the school into its head office located in Bundang-gu, Seongnam City, Gyeonggi Province, and provided them with “English camp” training, where they spent 45 days straight doing nothing but learning English. New employees who graduated from foreign universities taught the students.

A KDHC official said, “The KDHC plans to expand its social contribution program by sharing our employees’ knowledge and experience and nurturing talent rather than just holding one-time events such as purchasing agricultural products.”

This February, KT formed an “IT Supporters” group by selecting 400 directors and employees who posses certificates in IT. These IT supporters will be deployed to 26 regions nationwide and provide underprivileged people with IT training.

The president of KT, Nam Joong-su, remarked at the launching ceremony of “IT Supporters” that, “In the past, KT’s social contributions centered around making donations, but now, corporations will take more social responsibilities through volunteer work based on specialized IT knowledge and technology.”

In addition, Korea City Bank’s financial training program designed for elementary school students, called, “Think Money” and “an advertising academy for teenagers,” established by the Cheil Communications, are other programs companies specifically designed for young people.

Fostering next generation talents-

Another field company social contribution programs focus on is nurturing skilled labor such as university students. Companies now send out lecturers for business or offer on-site training facilities when they open courses in universities.

Siemens Korea currently selects about seven local graduate students majoring in electronics, electricity or computer science, every year and sends them to its head office in Germany for a period of five to six months.

Korea City Bank established a “City-Ewha Global Financial Academy” with the college of business administration at Ewha Women’s University. The bank’s directors and employees, who practiced business for more than 15 years or have an MBA degree, teach undergraduates and graduates about asset management and work with investment banks on a case-by-case basis.

Volvo Truck has opened a three-credit course aimed at providing students with an understanding of the technology involved in repairing heavy duty trucks at the Automotive Engineering department in Kookje College. IBM Korea also established a three-credit course devoted for senior students with Soongsil University last year.

A consultant at the consulting company specialized for social contribution programs, Limeglobe, Seo Dong-hyuk, noted, “local companies’ spending for social contribution projects as a ratio of total expenditures is no smaller than that of the U.S. or Japan, but, that the Korean version has a less favorable image local people than their counterparts do in their countries,” and added that a growing number of companies now develop programs to make higher quality contributions to society by utilizing expertise and competent labor rather than just providing financial support or holding one-time events.