Demand for multilingual workers soars in battery industry

By Park Jae-hyuk



The Korea Times Co.


Fluency in a foreign language has emerged as an important skill for those who seek jobs in Korea’s electric vehicle (EV) battery industry, as manufacturers and materials suppliers are vying to expand their presence overseas amid lingering uncertainties concerning the global supply chain, according to industry officials, Thursday. On Wednesday, POSCO Chemical began recruiting college graduates fluent in English and French, hiring them for engineering roles in the company’s factories here and overseas. In contrast to the recent job market trend of looking for employees majoring in engineering, the chemical firm is set to hire foreign language specialists from among applicants majoring in law, politics, public administration, statistics, international trade and foreign languages, with a plan to train them as engineers. “As we have aggressively expanded our battery materials business overseas, we decided to hire people who truly understand the cultures and geopolitics of the countries we entered,” POSCO Chemical said in a press release. “Because of our continuous overseas expansion through the joint construction of a cathode material plant in Canada with General Motors and strategic partnerships signed with our clients in North America and Europe, we have continued to hire a large number of new and experienced workers.” Korea’s top three EV battery makers — LG Energy Solution (LGES), Samsung SDI and SK On — have also looked for foreign language experts to reinforce their global communication teams. They have hired new staff with backgrounds in global public relations and journalism who possess high-level English skills, in order to task them with writing press releases and networking with foreign media. After Samsung SDI’s communication team hired a former reporter from an English-language daily newspaper late last year, SK On also hired a former reporter from an English-language news agency last month, as well as a former employee of a global PR agency. “We will continue to reinforce our global PR department, as we continue to expand overseas,” said a spokesperson from one of the three EV battery makers. In recent years, jobseekers majoring in humanities and social sciences have been unpopular not just among tech firms, but also among banks and financial institutions, which have prioritized hiring software programmers and engineers for digitization plans. Most Korean students have therefore devoted themselves to learning coding and other tech-related subjects. The necessity of supply chain diversification amid the global trade war, however, led Korean companies to build their production facilities in various countries, allowing more foreign language specialists to work for export-reliant tech firms.