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Graduates caught in acute job crisis

Update: March, 28/2014 - 08:50

Students at the FPT University library. University graduates are facing a serious unemployment crisis and part of the problem is that they are not well trained for jobs available in the market, experts say. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Tu

by Minh Thi

HA NOI — It has been nine months since Bui Thu Hang, a former student of the Ha Noi School of Public Health graduated.

She has submitted applications to potential employers, including those in fields not related to public health, but she has failed to find a job.

"Many employers ask for professional experience of at least one year – which I lack as a fresh graduate. Some failed to offer accurate information about what kind of positions they were offering," said Hang.

Hang is not alone in feeling discriminated against for lacking work experience. Many other graduates cited the same problem when asked by Viet Nam News about their search to find a job.

But it is not only new graduates that are struggling to find a job. Some have continued to experience difficulty years after graduating.

Nguyen Anh Tuan, a graduate of Dong Do University, finished university nearly three years ago.

The civil engineering major said he had struggled to find work and ended up having to settle for jobs that he didn't want or were irrelevant to his degree.

In the end, he quit his position as a project assistant for a construction company, only to be unemployed again. He now works as a mechanic at his father's motorbike repair shop while still looking for job opportunities.

"It is not difficult to settle for a job that you do not really like, but to find a job that is suitable for you and offers the right pay is a headache," said Tuan.

Hang and Tuan's story is common among university graduates. A recent revelation by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs made domestic headlines with the news that approximately 19,200 college graduates and 72,000 university graduates remained unemployed by the end of 2013.

Such statistics meant increases of 130 and 170 per cent in the unemployment rate among the two groups compared to the same period in 2012.

While the statistics have taken many by surprise, it has been less of a shock to some of the nation's HR managers.

Le Vinh Khanh, a software development manager for ASWIG Solutions who also recruits new staff for the IT company, said the ministry's revelation did not come as a surprise.

Khanh said courses at many universities in Viet Nam were not preparing students for jobs. In many cases, companies had to train graduate employees to familiarise them with new work.

"Only students from top schools could adapt quickly to the labour market after graduation," Khanh said, adding that the majority of average performers would stay unemployed or have to accept jobs that were not aligned with their college majors.

More effective solutions

Dr Nguyen Ngoc Tai, senior researcher and director of the Higher Educational Centre from the Institute for Educational Research said the Labour Ministry's statistics were a sign that the country needed to pay more attention to providing effective training strategies.

"We need timely solutions to adjust the training scope of schools in Viet Nam," he said.

Tai further explained that Viet Nam had been developing pyramid shaped labour market structure: with university students as the largest group, followed by college students in the middle and trade workers making up the smallest share.

"We have an excess of university graduates. Yet at the same time we suffer from a shortage of technical trade workers," Tai said, blaming the society's emphasis on attaining academic certificates.

Khanh further explained that many students were opting for popular majors without considering the demand of the labour market. This was causing an imbalance between supply and demand for jobs in the labour market, he said.

"This means the Government needs to revise its plans," he added.

Tai also blamed schools for not doing a good job guiding students into realistic career paths, adding that career orientation sessions were only integrated into extra-curricular activities despite their overwhelming importance.

Students in remote areas were also suffering from the serious lack of information about career options, he said.

Tai said schools needed to stay up to date with the Labour Ministry's news on labour market demand, in order to help students gain employment.

"The training quotas of colleges, universities and vocational schools need to be adjusted to meet labour market demand. They need to match with the economy's demands."

Tai also said Viet Nam needed to learn from countries where students benefited from career guidance from an early age and were given tests to gauge talent and character traits. This would help students identify professions that were suitable, he added.

"We need to apply these practices in Viet Nam," he urged.

Better co-operation between higher education institutions and employers has also been cited as a measure to reduce unemployment rates among graduates. — VNS



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