Make it in Germany

Posted 21/07/2015 by maavn
Categories: Commentary

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A Multilingual “Welcome to Germany” Portal for International Qualified Professionals

Germany is tied with Japan as the “oldest” country in the world with a median age of 46.1.  In a phrase “the Germans are dying out” (die Deutschen sterben aus).  It’s estimated that the population will shrink to 66 million by 2060 from a current population of about 83 million.  Since Germans are not having enough babies for various reasons that transcend one blog post , they have no choice but to compensate by encouraging the immigration of educated and qualified people from around the world. 

This includes a campaign called Make it in Germany, which has been translated into a number of languages, including Vietnamese, and customized.  (There’s even a sign language video.)  Other target countries include India, Indonesia, Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, Russia, Italy, Portugal and Portuguese-speaking countries (Brazil?) and Serbia.  The website has various entry points for people interesting in working, studying, traveling, research or starting a business.  It also features a section with “I made it” success stories, in addition to detailed information about in-demand professions, living in Germany, learning the language, etc.  .

make it in germanyHere is the introduction and overview of this website, which characterizes it as a “‘Welcome to Germany’ portal for international qualified professionals”.

“Make it in Germany” is the multilingual “Welcome to Germany” portal for international qualified professionals. It is run by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. “Make it in Germany” informs qualified professionals who are interested in immigrating about their career prospects and shows them how to organise their move to Germany – and what makes it worthwhile to live and work here. The portal posts current vacancies in occupations where there is a labour shortage and provides information about the sectors in search of skilled workers. There are also presentations by international qualified professionals who have already forged a successful career for themselves here, while employers in Germany can get tips on how to go about recruiting skilled professionals from abroad.

In actual fact, “Make it in Germany” is more than just an information portal – it is the expression of a whole “culture of welcome”. It portrays Germany as a modern, diverse society and helps convey the friendly, cosmopolitan nature of the country.

The Vietnamese version, which is being actively promoted on various social media channels in Vietnam, features Tung, a business software development engineer from Hanoi, who lives and works in Giessen, Germany.  (I like the pretzel and the beer – nice touch.  Makes me hungry & thirsty.  :-))


Make it in Germany is a bold and exciting initiative that recognizes the reality that the country’s population is graying and that future success will be the result of attracting international qualified professionals.  It rolls out the virtual red carpet to those individuals who might have an interest in studying and/or working and living in Germany.

While the median age of the US is lower (36.8 years), its economy desperately needs a certain percentage of international students, for example, to stay, work and, ultimately, emigrate.  (One reason is not enough native-born US Americans are studying key subjects, e.g., STEM fields.)  While emigration is possible, it is not yet policy, hence the third student visa criterion about returning to one’s home country, which often ends up being a hoop that applicants have to jump through in order to get the visa.

clock is tickingKudos to Germany for launching the Make it in Germany initiative.  The US should follow in its footsteps in order to align its immigration policy with the fast-changing realities of the US and global labor market.  Is anyone in DC watching, listening and learning?  Tick-tock, tick-tock.


Challenge to Industry Competitors: Take Your Game to the Next Level!

Posted 16/07/2015 by maavn
Categories: Articles, Commentary

Tags: , , , , , ,

Dear IEinV Followers,

I know that many of you are US and foreign higher education colleagues because of the feedback I receive.  Included among the “others” are some government friends and competitors.  The latter drop by to see what I’m up to and to see what (free) information they can glean from my posts for their own businesses.

So why do I occasionally provide information that can be classified as “market intelligence”?  The reason is simple.  It’s an opportunity to talk about two of my favorite topics, international education and Vietnam.  It’s also a chance to assist those colleagues who have a personal and/or professional interest in Vietnam by sharing information and, occasionally, commentary about such information, with them.  The others are along for the ride.  The more the merrier, in my opinion!

Innovation Over Imitation

Illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando.

Illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando.

To those competitors who choose imitation over innovation, and that’s a fairly long and growing list, unfortunately, I have two reading recommendations.  The first is an article I wrote last December for University World News (UWN) entitled Walking the walk – Ethical agency-based recruitment (Vietnamese translation) The second is an article to which I refer in the UWN piece, Why copycats are the best thing to happen to your company, written by Brian Wong, CEO and co-founder of Kiip, a mobile rewards network based in San Francisco.

Here’s one of the “money quotes” that I commend to you:

In Silicon Valley, the reward for trailblazing with true innovation is often a trail of “copycat” businesses following closely behind, seeking to profit from your idea. Sometimes the copycat is dead on arrival (see: too many examples to list here). Sometimes it pays to be the copycat (see: Germany’s infamous Samwer brothers). And sometimes the copycat goes to court (see: Samsung).

copy pasteAs someone who has had this happen multiple times to my company, I am no stranger to this form of “innovation.” But those experiences have helped me look at this much-maligned trend in a new light and shaped an opinion that many will likely disagree with – copycat businesses should be welcomed. Embraced, even.  After all, what is a copycat business other than evidence that you’ve created a solution that taps into and services a real need?

Take Snapchat, the Valley’s darling du jour, which has set the precedent for disposable instant messaging. In late 2012, Facebook launched Facebook Poke, a messaging app possessing an eerily similar feature to Snapchat’s signature disappearing act. A year later, after Poke didn’t pan out, came the $3 billion offer. But Facebook actually ended up being its own worst enemy here. Their cloning attempt had the opposite effect on Snapchat – instead of feeling intimidated, it increased Snapchat’s confidence in what they’d built. They now knew that their DNA wasn’t just something others could transplant and call their own.

Only time will tell if they made the right move, but it underscores the importance of concentrating on the road ahead, not who’s lurking in your rear-view mirror. Copycats have no visibility into the inner workings of your company or what you have in store. No matter what, you’ll be ahead of the curve because they can only replicate what you show them. In this sense, objects in mirror are not closer than they appear – they’re months behind you. (my bold)

Keep Your Eyes on the Road Ahead

keep-your-eyes-on-the-road-semmick-photoI’ve noticed this trend as it relates to Capstone Vietnam.  Brian’s advice and mine?  Keep your eyes firmly on the road ahead, ladies and gentlemen.  Be a leader not a follower, an innovator not an imitator.  Purge yourself of the copy/paste mentality that precludes creativity and will ultimately hold you back.  Be a worthy competitor.  Take your game to the next level – for the sake of your company, your clients, the industry and your country.  It’s the right thing to do and it’s good business in the long runAmen. 


P.S.:  Bonus –  Jack Ma’s 3 tips to building a successful business (Vanessa Tan, Tech in Asia, 6.7.15), based on the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle.

innovation steve jobs

“Diplomas, Transcripts & Certificates – Sellin’ Like Hotcakes!” Revisited

Posted 14/07/2015 by maavn
Categories: Commentary

Tags: ,

cheating next exitMore intrigue in the blog that promises (and delivers!) Information, Insights & (Occasionally) Intrigue.  Sometimes, like articles, these posts just write themselves.  I’m just the humble medium.  I received a comment last week from someone in the biz, the fake certificate biz, that is, in response to 2013 post entitled Diplomas, Transcripts & Certificates – Sellin’ Like Hotcakes! about the buying and selling of fraudulent educational credentials.  No, it wasn’t an erudite comment but rather a come-on for folks to buy “registered” IELTS, TOEFL, ESOL and CELTA/DELTA (and other!) English language certificates.  Why earn ’em when you can buy ’em, right?  Here’s one of the “money sentences”, pun intended.

After your order is placed it takes just few days for us to get your details in the system Once your details are imputed in the system it will be in the IELTS or TOEFL web sites/system once for ever and will appear real, legit and verifiable for ever.

THIS I’d like to see.  Show me what u got, boys and girls!

This company also “does” work permits, driver’s licenses, passports and visas.  You want it, you need it, they got it!  Free enterprise is alive and well in the sleazy world of fake educational credentials.

Drum roll…  here it is in the original sloppy (i.e., unedited) form with the contact information redacted.  (I don’t want to generate more business for this outfit.)


Buy Registered IELTS certificates without attending the Exam

fakeWe sell registered IELTS & TOEFL, ESOL, and CELTA/DELTA and other English Language certificates.

Buy Registered IELTS & TOEFL, ESOL certificates without attending the Exam

We deal and specialize in the production of registered TOEFL, IELTS, ESOL, CELTA/DELTA & other English Language Certificates. Please note that Our IELTS & TOEFL Certificates are Original and registered in the data base and Can be verified.After your order is placed it takes just few days for us to get your details in the system Once your details are imputed in the system it will be in the IELTS or TOEFL web sites/system once for ever and will appear real, legit and verifiable for ever.
contact email ——

WE can also help you to get valid Work permits,Driver’s license ,second passport and Visas to European ,USA,Canada and Australia.

Email & skype

Follow the Money: VEF Funding Revisited

Posted 08/07/2015 by maavn
Categories: Commentary

Tags: , ,

vef newbanner

I had the privilege of being an invited speaker at yesterday’s First Vietnam-US Higher Education Forum in Hanoi.  During the morning plenary session, one speaker referred to the Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) as a US government program.  I took the liberty of pointing out to the assembled throng that it is, in fact, a scholarship-for-debt program and that the funding comes from the Vietnamese government.  Give credit where credit’s due.  It’s only fair, right?  (Here’s a 2010 post entitled VEF: From Vietnam With Money about this issue.)

In April 1997, the US “persuaded” the Vietnamese government, using the time-honored carrot and stick approach, to repay  $146 million worth of agricultural and other loans, including principal and interest, incurred by its former enemy, the former Republic of Vietnam.  Three years later, the Vietnam Education Foundation Act of 2000 was introduced with the support of US senators who are veterans, including John Kerry, John McCain, Bob Kerrey, Chuck Hagel, Chuck Robb and Max Cleland.  This legislation resulted in the VEF.

vef logoWhen I asked how many colleagues were aware of this, only a few hands went up in an audience of 150 or so.  In other words, most people, Vietnamese and US Americans alike, think that the VEF is a US scholarship program.  Interestingly, a black/white PDF version of an article I wrote ten years ago about the VEF is still on its website.  (Follow this link to download the original color version.)

Stay tuned for a post about the connection between VEF funding and the new Fulbright University Vietnam. This will be a follow-up to a post from 26 May 2014 entitled Of Proposed Fulbright Cuts, Reaper Drones & the American Fulbright University in Vietnam.  The subtitle of this blog ain’t Information, Insights & (Occasionally) Intrigue for nothin’!


Capstone Vietnam is 2015 VietAbroader Conference Event Sponsor

Posted 02/07/2015 by maavn
Categories: Announcement, Conferences

Tags: , , , ,

My employer, Capstone Vietnam is the event sponsor of the 2015 VietAbroader Conferences, which will be held – for the first time ever – in seven (7) cities representing all three regions of Vietnam.  These include Can Tho, Danang, Haiphong, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Hue and Nghe An.

vac 2015While VietAbroader (VA), Vietnam’s premier student-run organization focusing on overseas study and study in the USA, in particular, celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, this summer is the 10th year that VA has organized study abroad conferences that offer a select group of students and parents the opportunity to learn more about study in the US from the best sources of information, current students, alumni and US higher education colleagues, and then attend afternoon US higher education fairs that are free and open to the public.

Capstone Vietnam will send staff to events in all seven (7) cities this month.  We’re grateful for the opportunity to support one of Vietnam’s top student organizations doing great work in the field of international educational exchange and are excited about the chance to meet students and parents from all over the country who are interested in StudyUSA.

empower vietnamese youthI’ve been a strong supporter of VietAbroader since its founding in 2004, and have served as a adviser ever since.  I’m proud of VietAbroader’s movers and shakers, including those who have long since graduated and become successful entrepreneurs and exemplary role models in a variety of fields here in Vietnam and elsewhere.


Intensive English Programs: Southeast Asia & Vietnam

Posted 30/06/2015 by maavn
Categories: Updates

Tags: , , , ,

iie-logoUS higher education colleagues who offer intensive English programs (IEPs) often ask me about the demand for ESL training among Vietnamese students. Vietnam was once the #1 sending country in SE Asia because of the tremendous need for remedial English training for many students.  For example, in 2008 16.85% of all Vietnamese students in the US were enrolled in an IEP for a total of 25,036 “student weeks”.  A year later, that percentage had decreased to 10.09% and the number of “student weeks” to 20,545.

By 2013, while Vietnam was the 2nd leading sending country in SE Asia – after Thailand (Indonesia was a distant 3rd with only 182 students) – for intensive English program in the US, 1,195, or 6.21% of Vietnamese students, were studying in an IEP for 18,432 “student weeks” and an average of 15.4 average weeks per student.

Below is a graph that illustrates the changes in enrollment over an eight (8) year period.  As you can see, the number has been gradually increasing again since 2010.


vn students iep programs

What explains the percentage decrease from a high of  16.85% (1478 students) in 2008?

  1. more quality opportunities to improve one’s English proficiency at home, thus reducing the need for remedial English training in the US;
  2. a growing ability to pay for those opportunities; and
  3. an increase in the number of institutions with less demanding English proficiency requirements.

Southeast Asia

Many students who need additional English training are high school students, simply because of their age, and students from rural areas who are not afforded the same opportunities to study and improve their English as those in the major urban centers.

Having said that, it’s still a significant market compared to most other SE Asian countries and worth devoting time, attention and resources to for a select group of institutions, especially those that are willing to aggressively market their programs and travel to Vietnam to participate in fairs and other public events that enable them to reach out directly to students and parents.

Follow this link to read the 2013 report (the latest year for which IEP enrollment statistics are apparently available).  After country and number of students are student-weeks and average weeks per student.


“What International Students Think About U.S. Higher Education” (Revisited)

Posted 24/06/2015 by maavn
Categories: Commentary, Reports, Survey

Tags: , , ,

Attitudes and Perceptions of Prospective Students From Around the World (2015)
New edition, revised and expanded

SH-What-International-Students-Think-About-US-Higher-EducationAccording to the website announcement, this revised and expanded Institute of International Education (IIE) report examines the attitudes and perceptions that international students who are considering studying in the United States have of U.S. higher education and other key study destinations around the world. The following research questions are explored: What attracts students from other countries to study in the United States? What course of study do they intend to pursue? Do they prefer the United States to other key destinations? What are the perceived barriers facing students who wish to study in the United States? The results of surveys conducted in 19 countries are presented together in this comprehensive report.

After downloading and opening this report, I was looking forward to seeing the latest information about Vietnam.  Much to my dismay and disappointment, I found information from a survey I initiated when I was still country director of IIE-Vietnam.  That was over 6 years ago!  Obviously, the only part of the Vietnam section that was “new, revised and expanded” was the introduction.

IIE conducted an online survey in March 2009 of 707 prospective students in Vietnam who had visited the U.S. Department of State-funded EducationUSA advising centers in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi and/or had attended one of the IIE Higher Education Fairs in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi or Danang. Students were surveyed regarding their preferred study destinations, reasons for wishing to study abroad, perceived obstacles, main sources of information on studying in the U.S. and their impressions of five potential host destinations (the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, France and Singapore). (my bold)

The U.S. was the overwhelming first-choice destination for respondents in Vietnam, with 82 percent of respondents listing the U.S. in an open-ended question, followed by eight percent for Australia and five percent for the U.K. (Fig. 23). Australia led among alternative destinations, with 31 percent of the total, followed by the United Kingdom (21 percent) and Singapore (14 percent).

Follow this link to read it yourself.

Given IIE’s close relationship to the US State Department and EducationUSA (its two advisers in the US Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) are former IIE educational advisers and were both involved in the administration of the 2009 survey) and given US Mission Vietnam’s sizable database of student contacts and its reach, especially in Hanoi and HCMC, why not launch a joint online survey to take the nation’s pulse in late 2014 or early 2015?  Six years is a lot of water under the bridge in a rapidly changing country like Vietnam.

Other Reasons to Administer Another Survey

survey imageThe results of the 2009 survey are biased because the student participants were those “who had visited the U.S. Department of State-funded EducationUSA advising centers in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi and/or had attended one of the IIE Higher Education Fairs in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi or Danang.”

A few examples will suffice to prove my point of self-selection sampling.

The US as the “overwhelming first-choice destination” for Vietnamese students:  While I don’t disagree that the US is the preferred destination for Vietnamese students based on current enrollment figures, it strains credulity that the percentage is that high, especially given the number of Vietnamese students studying in Australia and other top five countries (e.g., Japan, China, Singapore).

Top Three Sources of Information About Study in the USA:  77% said the Internet, followed by the EducationUSA advising centers or US Embassy/Consulate General (51%), US higher education fairs or information sessions (48%), friends or classmates (30%), foreign recruiters or school representatives (21%) and teachers/professors (19%).  Conspicuously absent are education agents, which the majority of Vietnamese students and parents use.  This is probably because that was not included as a choice given State’s and therefore IIE’s bias towards agents.  Call it a sin of omission.  (Another point is that many students who use EducationUSA/US Mission services are less likely to work with an education agent.)

Gender breakdown:  62.9% female vs. 37.1% male, which may be representative of students who visited EducationUSA advising centers and attended IIE and US Mission education-related events but is not representative of Vietnamese students studying, or planning to study, in the US.

Note:  I discussed some of these issues in this 11 March 2010 post, one month after the Vietnam report was published as an IIE briefing paper.



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