More than a million people from all sections of society are currently unemployed, many in the wake of the economic downturn, while graduates are being forced to take manual labour. Is there any hope for the future?
by Trung Hieu
|Students and young people seek job information at Ho Chi Minh City Youth Culture House. The number of unemployed people has been increasing. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Vy
Sitting in her dark, small rented room hidden down a small lane in Ha Noi's Phung Khoang Street, Phan Kim Anh, a university graduate from Thai Binh Province, busily studies a pile of newspapers and leaflets searching for jobs.
"Since I graduated, my main job everyday is to surf web and buy newspapers to find employment information, before calling the employers for further details. I've visited many companies, but I have gained almost nothing, because all these places offer low-wage jobs that are unrelated to my major," she says.
"I graduated a year ago but still have to ask my parent's for money. I feel so sad, but if I return, I will not find any suitable jobs. I would rather stay in Ha Noi, as there are more opportunities here than in my province. I am also considering finding a job outside of my major. Whatever happens, I have to make ends meet."
According to human resources experts, many graduates have to work in sectors they did not study, some even working as manual labourers. Many graduates do not meet employers' requirements and do not recognise their own ability, while others have unrealistic expectations. Although there are many opportunities, employers often choose experienced workers instead of the newly graduated.
But newly graduated students aren't the only ones to suffer. People from all sections of society have become victims of the "storm of unemployment" caused by the current economic and financial downturn.
During this hard time, many businesses have been forced to close or lay-off staff, thus thousands of workers have lost their jobs. And despite their best efforts to seek new employment, the workers are faced with few opportunities.
Nguyen Van Kien, who works at a real estate company in Nguyen Quang Street, says his company went bankrupt.
"Our company did not have any success in the last two years. The director tried everything to save the company but failed, so we had to dissolve it."
Nguyen Le Ha, 27, has just lost her job working for an event organising company.
"The company used to have a lot of work, but recently the boss informed us that there were too many debts and bank loans so we can't get new contracts. We didn't have any salary for three months so I had to quit to look for another job."
The number of unemployed people has been increasing, so finding a stable job these days is like "looking for a needle in a haystack" for many people.
Having graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics over six months ago, Nguyen Thi Mai from Nghe An Province says she feels discouraged by her lack of success in finding a job.
"I graduated in July 2012, but have been unemployed until now. In recent months I have sent my CV to many companies but I still haven't found a suitable job."
Another job-finder feeling frustration, Nguyen Van Chinh, says "I stay at home and study the internet and newspapers. Everywhere I called that offered "good jobs with good salary" led me to middle-men, who told me if I want to find a job I will have to pay VND200,000 (US$9.8) in fees. This is just a trick to cheat students. I know these middle-men are also unemployed, they just created this trick to earn money from others."
According to the General Statistics Office, by the end of December 2012, the labour force aged 15 and upwards stood at 52.58 million people, having increased by 2.3 per cent compared with 2011.
The unemployment rate of workers in 2012 was 1.99 per cent, accounting for more than one million people.
The number of unemployed people continues to climb, causing the offices dealing with unemployment insurance procedures to become overloaded with work.
At job promotion centres, the number of employment opportunities has fallen, while enterprises' requirements are becoming more particular. According to many labour experts, the scarcity of jobs is set to continue in 2013, meaning many people's lives will be blighted by the lack of income.
There is still a large discrepancy between supply and demand in the labour market, in the sense that enterprises still have demand, but they can ill-afford to employ new staff, while many workers can't find suitable jobs.
Deputy head of the Job Department under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) Nguyen Thi Hai Van believes the reason is that enterprises and job finders are rarely compatible as there is a skills shortage for technical roles.
"Many workers are limited in their level of skills. Moreover, they are limited in terms of foreign languages and information technology skills, so they struggle to find jobs in foreign-invested enterprises and with enterprises that offer a high salary.
"There are also problems in matching jobs to labourers. For example, only the manual labourers visit the job promotion centres. The white-collar workers do not arrive in these centres because they think they can find jobs via websites and by directly contacting the employers," she says.
Dao Lan Anh, deputy director of a Ha Noi-based trading and service company, also says the reason employers and labourers are an ill fit: "Many labourers have low competencies and ability, but they still require a high salary."
According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the percentage of young labourers who are unemployed is far higher than the general work force. In the period 2007-11, the youths' unemployment ratio was twice the national average.
Deputy Minister of MoLISA Nguyen Ngoc Phi describes a paradox whereby there are more graduates in the market, but hardly any jobs for them.
"Meanwhile, the enterprises require employees that have technical skills, but not many people can meet these demands. One reason is that many families didn't want to let their children learn at job training schools, but instead forced them to join universities at all costs," he says.
MoLISA Minister Pham Thi Hai Chuyen says, the ministry is implementing solutions to reach the job training and promotion targets.
"The target by 2017, is for 15 million young people and students to be given career advice and 1.2 million young people to receive job training and assistance," she says.
She adds that one important solution is to implement the Job Training Strategy for 2011-20, which aims to improve job training quality and link job training to job creation.
"To create jobs for young workers more effectively, we have asked the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee to collaborate with MoLISA in implementing career guidance, training and creating jobs." — VNS