Vietnam’s recent graduates find no value in diplomas

Below is reprint of a 6 May 2014 article about the plight of many postsecondary graduates in Vietnam.  While the unemployment rate is 10% among university graduates, it’s estimated that 50% of all young people between the ages of 15 and 24 who have entered the labor market are unemployed (2012).  Then there’s the specter of underemployment.

Here’s a partial list of some key issues and contributing factors – in no particular order:

  1. economic downturn=business slowdowns, bankruptcies, fewer jobs
  2. mismatch between what many students have studied and the needs of employers
  3. glut of young people studying business administration, banking and finance (banks and other financial institutions laying off employees, hiring fewer new staff)
  4. lack of preparation to enter the world of work successfully
  5. lack of preparation for the application and interview process
  6. low work ethic and level of commitment/dedication (related to #4)
  7. unrealistic expectations about starting salary, in some cases
  8. insufficient real world/practical experience (related to #4)
  9. job hopping (e.g., fixation on salary – related to #10)
  10. short- vs. long-term view of employment and career development/growth

Follow this link to read the original article.  This July 2013 article, entitled Graduate unemployment and ‘over-education’ rising, provides more information about and insights into this disturbing trend.  As the author points out, demand is higher for technicians and less skilled workers in the 100 industrial zones and export processing zones around the country, which employ some 500,000 people.  As in other countries, there are not enough young people enrolling in vocational programs because of the prestige factor and the preference for universities over colleges (vocational institutions) for those who are able to pass the university entrance exam.



Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, a college graduate of business administration, works as a beer promotion girl.  Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre.
Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, a college graduate of business administration, works as a beer promotion girl. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre.

Many college and university graduates in Vietnam have had to put their dreams aside and to earn a living.

Tuoi Tre newspaper recently revealed that many new graduates have struggled to find jobs at vocational centers around Ho Chi Minh City, for lack of available offers.

Huynh Thi Thuy Hang, a beer promotion girl at a restaurant in District 9, graduated with a finance and banking diploma last year.

Hang said she sent her CV to different places but never got a response.

Another promotion girl named Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy also has a business administration diploma that has gotten her nowhere.

Many diploma-holding vendors at a night markets around a complex of national universities on the outskirts of the city have earned it the name “intellectual market.”

Nguyen Nhu Cam, who sells clothes at the market, said she studied urban management at the private Hong Bang International University, but she still can’t find a relevant job.

“I was doing paperwork for a company but the payment was low, so I quit, and started to sell clothes here.

“I don’t know when I will be able to find a job in my field of study. It’s so difficult to find one these days.”

Figures released last December by the General Statistics Office showed the unemployment rate among Vietnamese university graduates rose to nearly 10 percent, around four-fold the average rate.

Officials blame it on employer pickiness or on the fact that their training did not suit market demands, especially amid an economic slump.

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