HCM CITY — Do The Tai of southern coastalVung Tau City promptly pulls out a list showing his university and college preferences when asked about the ongoing university entrance examinations.
What if, just in case, he does not make it? What about vocational schools where he can pick up valuable skills?
Tai has not even thought about it.
"I don't know why, but I have never thought about them. I am just thinking of universities and colleges," says the 19-year-old youth.
In fact, most students who are sitting the examinations are not thinking about vocational schools, even if they fail.
They would rather prepare afresh and retake the exam later, a small survey carried out by the Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper found.
Only two of 50 students interviewed said they would consider joining vocational schools if their original academic plans do not work out.
The low priority accorded by students is hurting vocational training schools in HCM City despite several preferential policies and improved infrastructure.
Students are also pushed by their parents to focus on getting into a university or college irrespective of their abilities and talents.
It is reported that there are about 420 vocational training centres and schools in HCM City that can train 400,000 students per year.
Nguyen Thanh Hiep, head of the Vocational Training Department under the city's Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said local vocational training schools and centres in the city last year enrolled 270,000 students.
The situation has not improved even after the Ministry of Education and Training began allowing students to sit for the entrance exams after finishing a vocational training course.
A stipulation that universities should not offer vocational training has also had little positive effect.
Experts point to several reasons why guidance provided to students on suitable careers has not made a difference in their choice of further studies.
The forecasting of human resource needs for the city has not been accurate, said Tran Anh Tuan, deputy director of a human resource management office under the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.
Also, the training provided does not match the needs of several sectors, which means student find themselves unemployed after finishing a vocational training course.
This discouraged other students from enrolling in vocational schools, Tuan said.
He suggested that the city come up with programmes that explain clearly to students the careers for which they can be trained by vocational training schools and centres.
"The schools and centres also need to strengthen co-operate with enterprises so they know the real demand for skills and can offer courses that guarantee students gainful employment after graduation," he added. — VNS