by Trung Hieu - Nguyen Huy
Viet Nam's education system is seeing a trend of many university graduates, who cannot find steady employment, continuing their studies to obtain master's degrees. Stuck in a deadlock, these MA holders continue to find it hard to get suitable jobs.
The cycle seems to continue with no job result in the end: they obtain their university degrees then encounter unemployment followed by the completion of their master's degrees - then they face unemployment again.
Graduated with distinction in business administration from a people-founded university, Nguyen Bich Hoan has sent job application letters and CVs to dozens of offices but she could not get a stable job.
Following her friends' advice, Hoan instead continued her studies and passed an MBA at a Ha Noi-based university.
"Many offices refused me, as they didn't want to employ a graduate from a private university. That's why I wanted to lift my degrees so I would have a better CV and may find it easier to get a job later," she said.
Hoan said her postgraduate course has a dozen students who recently graduated from university and are now studying for their master's degrees.
Another young graduate, Nam Minh who comes from Quang Nam Province, revealed, "As I can't find a good job right now, I continue to study for a master's degree. I hope with an MA degree I can easily find a job in the near future."
However, young people like Hoan and Minh do not realize that many other young people have master's degrees but remain disillusioned about finding good jobs.
Actually, many postgraduates are also unemployed, facing the same problems as those with undergraduate degrees. Some even leave out their MA degrees to obtain employment as manual labourers, cafe staff or work as drivers to earn a living.
Two years after graduating with a master's degree in ecology, Nguyen Chinh, 27, tried to get a job in Da Nang City where he had studied, but he failed.
"I sent my job applications to dozens of offices. Some have invited me for an interview. But all failed," Chinh sadly said.
"Many of my classmates also graduated from our master's course but they are still unemployed. Sometimes when we applied for jobs in other sectors, we felt ashamed that we had to hide our master's degrees. If I had known it was so hard to find a job, I wouldn't have enrolled in the masters' course. It cost much money and it's also not easy to find a job."
As he could not get a stable job, Chinh has to do different things to earn his living. Sometimes he works as a cafe manager, and sometimes he works as a tutor to earn about VND2 million (less than US$100) a month to support himself.
Hoang Thu Trang, 24, graduated with a diplomat in foreign economic relations from the Foreign Trade University in Ha Noi and then studied in Britain to obtain an MA in banking and finance from the University of Birmingham.
She has sent out more than 100 CVs and job applications and is still waiting for a job.
"Those waiting for employment may suffer the same problem as me: everyday it's waiting for the mail or a phone call; and then it's listening to my mother sigh and say, 'We spent a lot of money for you to study abroad but you are still unemployed'."
Then fate smiled on her - finally Trang was offered positions by several offices and she chose a bank because it was her trained field.
"Today, whether bachelors or masters, it's more difficult to find a job opportunity due to the following reasons: because of economic difficulties many companies sacked their staff; fewer offices want to employ new staff; and graduates themselves lack practical experience."
According to education experts, higher education and postgraduate learners should have a good career orientation before enrolling.
According to Nguyen Phan Linh, who holds a master's in philosophy, the universities and colleges that train social sciences and humanities sectors should study society's job demands to ensure their graduates find suitable jobs.
"While the youths prepare to sit for enrolment examination at these schools they see many employment opportunities, but after graduating, everything is totally different," he said.
Another expert said the universities did not sufficiently train students in soft skills, so these graduates struggle to find jobs.
"Overall, we are facing a redundant workforce. Tens of thousands of students graduate each year but most of them try to remain in Ha Noi, HCM City and other large cities, so how can they find a suitable working place?" said Vu Van Hoa, vice rector of the University of Business and Technology in Ha Noi.
However, Hoang Thu Trang said not all the doors are closed to young people, since, if they want to succeed, they must be very good at their profession and soft skills.
"Moreover, they should not be discouraged and not to be too choosey, so they may find a good job," she said. — VNS