An official at the 2021 Korea Intellectual Property shows a virtual fitting system application based on augmented reality technology at Coex in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

South Korea will foster 89,000 more people specialized in software technology by 2025 to cope with a shortage of digital talent in the future, the Ministry of Science and ICT said Thursday.

Unveiling the government’s plan to support younger generations in times of digital transformation, the ministry said a total of 413,000 software professionals will be supplied over the next five years. The government’s original plan was to raise 324,000 software talents, but the expected demand was estimated at 353,000.

The ministry explained that digital transformation is accelerating across all sectors, causing more demand for ICT talents while there is a growing number of young people desiring digital education.

The ministry vowed to provide more learning opportunities for the youth starting next year. The government plans to run mentorship programs for 1,000 people, provide more internship chances for about 4,000 people both in and out of the country and organize 24 digital competition events that will award prize money of 12.7 billion won ($10.8 million) in total.

The government will offer incentives to companies that hire young interns and provide educational program on AI and software to enlisted soldiers starting next year, according to the ministry.

Any students interested in learning about information and communication technology will be given the chance to take online lectures taught at universities designated as “software-centered schools” by the government. There will also be interpretation services for foreign ICT classes.

For software engineers and developers already working in the field, the government will offer cloud resources, meeting spaces and financial aid for conducting promotional activities and holding conferences.

The ministry added that the government will set up a “metaverse academy” and offer consultations and legal support regarding the protection of intellectual property.

The ministry plans to open a new page on the government’s digital new deal website to provide detailed information and policies regarding the government’s support measures to nurture young digital talents in the first half of next year.

In order to find out the needs of ICT hopefuls and industry workers, the government held 15 meetings with 119 young adults including software developers and startup heads.

Despite the shifts in the global supply chains and COVID-19 crisis, the country’s ICT industry has continued to grow as the amount of ICT exports kept increasing for 17 consecutive months since June last year.

According to the ministry, the amount of the ICT industry’s total output increased about 10 percent over the last five years. The number of companies that supply data went up almost threefold in the past two years while the number of AI companies grew by 450 percent in the same period.

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