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Samsung targets South Korean army recruits

Pilot hire scheme offers hi-tech jobs for soldiers

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Electronics giant Samsung has enlisted the help of an unusual ally in its on-going recruitment efforts: the South Korean army.

The country’s pre-eminent chaebol has agreed to pick 100 soldiers from a shortlist of 150 for a four month software training program, it told the Wall Street Journal.

Anyone who has graduated from high school is apparently eligible to take part in the program which theoretically means pretty much everyone, given that over 95 per cent of South Koreans finish school.

For those lucky enough to be chosen for the program there’s apparently no guarantee of a job with Samsung at the end.

However, even getting that far will be seen as a major step in the fiercely competitive race to secure a role with the firm – where graduates from only the best universities in the country are usually selected.

Military service is compulsory for all South Korean men over the age of 19, who must spend 21 months learning how to fire guns and fold their clothes neatly.

The scheme is apparently inspired by Israel’s Talpiot program, in which recruits to the Israeli Defence Force with an aptitude for maths, science or physics have their university-level education paid for by the army and are then funded for six years in related R&D projects.

South Korea’s defence ministry is apparently looking to expand the program to other major companies in the future if the Samsung pilot is successful.

As such, it can be seen as part of the new administration's attempts to overcome growing unemployment, especially amongst young people.

However, while the government will certainly be hoping it manages to create the kind of thriving start-up sector that Talpiot helped to kindle, it was at pains to point out there is no obligation for any of the participants to eventually go away and work on defence-related technologies. ®

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