Tran Quynh Hoa
HA NOI — Luong Thu Ha's college days are almost over, but she still has no idea about what area of employment she wants to get involved in.
|Youngsters attend a job recruitment venue in HCM City. Many fresh graduates have difficulty in finding a job due to their lack of preparation for technical or professional work. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Vy
"I'm not sure what I want to do. I might start looking for a job in May or June when I'm totally done with university," said the last - year agricultural business administration student.
The 22-year-old Hanoian is worried about her job prospects, despite being one of the top students at the capital-based Agriculture University 1.
"It's extremely difficult for fresh graduates to find a job because most companies require at least three years' experience," she said. "Employers all think they will have to provide job training before we are capable of fulfilling our roles."
For Ha and about 1 million others who enter the labour market in Viet Nam every year, poor preparation and employers' unwillingness to receive fresh graduates are among the major problems preventing the youth from a smooth transition into employment.
"The transition should start much earlier, not from graduation," said the International Labour Organis-ation (ILO) country director, Gyorgy Sziraczki, at a national youth employment forum organised in Ha Noi by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) and the ILO yesterday.
Phan Viet Hoang, chief of business development at the Vietnam Information System Solution Co and creator of job promotion website mywork.com, said students were "too passive" and waited until their final year before thinking of internships and job applications.
"Young people also quite often lack the skills and attitude they need to walk straight into a job after university," he said.
Agreeing that Vietnamese graduates were usually "not confident" enough for the world of employment, Pham Dinh Hieu, a lecturer and a student counsellor at the National University in Ha Noi, said enterprises should still give young people an opportunity.
Around the globe, youth unemployment was not a new issue, but the new dimension was its scale, said Matthieu Cognac, ILO regional youth employment specialist.
According to the General Statistics Office, 15-to 24-year-olds (the global definition for youth) have always represented the highest rate of unemployment in Viet Nam, and the rate has risen significantly from nearly 5 per cent in 1997 to the current level of approximately 7 per cent.
Latest statistics from MoLISA and the ILO show that those aged 15- to 24 account for more than half (50.4 per cent) of the country's unemployed.
Young women face more difficulty finding work than their male counterparts, and in 2010, female youth unemployment in Viet Nam stood at 8.3 per cent, compared to 5.9 per cent of young men, according to the ILO.
"Youth unemployment is only the tip of the iceberg," said Cognac. "For those with a job, the quality is often an issue."
According to the ILO, a large proportion of young people toil in unproductive and low-paid work.
Le Thi Huong, 21, from the northern province of Phu Tho, has ended up working as a waitress at a bia hoi (fresh beer) shop in Ha Noi for VND2 million (US$95) a month without a formal contract or insurance. She is fed up with running from table to table between 11am and 10pm, seven days a week, but has no other choice because she no longer wants to rely on the meagre earnings her mother makes from farming.
"If only I had a job where I could use what I learnt during my three years at college," said Huong. She completed an accountancy degree at a local vocational college several months ago, but has failed at all her job applications since then.
Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Doan Mau Diep said Viet Nam had many vocational training institutions and schemes, but there was a mismatch between training quality and market demands.
Cognac said the country should provide better training, including foreign languages, for young people before the ASEAN economic community is established in 2015, which would provide both opportunities and challenges for the country's labour market.
Youth unemployment in Viet Nam, however, was now still much better than the rest of Southeast Asia, with an average regional youth unemployment rate at 14 per cent, said Cognac. On a larger scale, the global youth employment crisis has also reached an unprecedented level. Globally, young people are three times more likely than adults to be out of job, and four out of 10 people unemployed worldwide are young people, according to the ILO.
The ILO experts said MoLISA had "done a good job" by reaching out to help young people living in rural areas and disadvantaged groups, but the creation of decent job opportunities for all young people remained a big challenge for the country.
And Deputy Minister Diep admitted: "There's still a long way to go [before all young Vietnamese people have a decent job]. — VNS