Vietnam had 10.7 million trained workers (who have short-term training certificates, finish intermediate school, junior college and have bachelor’s and master’s degrees) which accounted for 20 percent of the labor force. Of these, 4.47 million have a higher education level.
Like many other countries, including the US, Vietnam is afflicted with the disease of credentialism. A bachelor’s degree or higher means more and better job opportunities, right? According to a recent VietnamNet Bridge article, based on information from the Vietnam Labor & Social Studies Institute, unemployment is rising among those with four-year undergraduate and graduate degrees because of oversupply while it’s decreasing among graduates of junior (3-year, i.e., vocational) colleges. Vietnam’s economy, of course, needs more workers with a quality vocational credential. Not as much prestige, mind you, but a better chance of finding a job.
Here’s an excerpt from the article with a quote from Nguyen Tung Lam, a well-known educator and chair of the Hanoi Education Psychology Association, about the four reasons for the rising unemployment rate among workers with higher education.
- University graduates did not choose the majors that match with their capabilities and interest. As a result, they did not pay enough attention and could not obtain the necessary working skills before graduation.
- Schools with low training capability cannot produce qualified workers.
- A substandard educational system that is not at the level of “international standards.”
- Fourth, MoET (Ministry of Education and Training) only controls schools’ operation and training quality on paper, while it does not know what happens in reality.
Once consequence of this overproduction of university graduates is that Vietnam may have to import skilled workers, according to Van Nhu Cuong, president of Luong The Vinh High School.
One problem related to the first point is the lack of career counseling and students studying what their parents want them to study rather than what they’re good at and have an interest in. Another is a lack of information about the relationship between their chosen field of study and future career prospects.
This also applies to overseas-educated Vietnamese, some of whom have difficulty finding a suitable position back home because they did not take full advantage of the opportunities afforded them in terms of academics, extracurricular activities, internships and language (e.g., some Vietnamese who study overseas do not benefit linguistically from an immersion experience because they live in a Vietnamese community). An overseas is a point of departure in any job interview not a deciding factor.