by Khanh Duong
Six months ago, 22-year-old Nguyen Ha Linh received her bachelor degree in international affairs from the Academy of Journalism and Communication and expressed her exciting feeling of, finally, being free from her so-called "study career" of the previous 16 years.
Linh used to nurture the dream of becoming a diplomat while being absorbed in theories at the university's lecture hall. After a harsh time struggling to find her dream job, she decided to return to study in hopes of obtaining a Masters degree in the field and shortening the time gap of a postgraduate, and more importantly, to ensure a position related to her major in a State agency.
Linh's story is very common among fresh graduates who think continuing to study is a reasonable and trendy choice.
The thought of "higher study means better jobs" in a degree-treasured society has obsessed minds of young Masters candidates.
The latest quarterly labour bulletin published by Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) shows a troubling trend. Among more than 1.1 million working-age unemployed people nationwide in the third quarter of this year, the holders of bachelor, Masters degrees and those at higher academic levels account for more than 20 per cent. The number of unemployed bachelors and Masters degree holders was said to sharply increase every quarter.
Doan Mau Diep, MOLISA deputy minister, revealed the sad fact that the higher academic level learners take, the higher number of them will be unemployed. In contrast, when students take classes at job centres, they are exposed to fewer risks of unemployment.
The reason is easily understood when students, at academic bachelor or Masters levels, acquire theory-packed lessons without practical knowledge and broad research. Meanwhile, students at job centres are well equipped with pragmatic knowledge and skills.
Being a renowned Vietnamese educator, Associate Professor Van Nhu Cuong, head of the Ha Noi-based Luong The Vinh high school worries about the quality of Masters training in Viet Nam as Masters classes of many universities only need to recruit enough candidates to be opened.
There used to be long stories on the media mentioning the reasons for unemployment in Viet Nam. Experts blamed the situation on oversupply of graduates while State agencies are cutting down the public workforce. Other factors such as a lack of professional orientation and training quality have also been attributed to the problem.
"Degrees don't 100 percent truly reflect the ability of candidates," according to Tran Hung Dao, Deputy General Director of A Chau JSC, saying that he can not accept to pay high salaries to the candidates who only have a Masters degree and still cannot prove their ability.
According to Jonah Levey, founder and chairman of Vietnamworks, based on his company's survey of 200 employers, the most important thing that hiring managers care about when considering an application is working experience relevant to the vacancy. None of the employers surveyed chose "relevant education" as the most important criteria to evaluate a candidate.
The best job seekers have to be able to explain in their curriculum vitae (CV) why they are the correct person for the job, and how their achievements and experience will support them to contribute to the success of the company they are applying to.
Nguyen Thanh Tam, who just graduated from University of Languages and International Studies, has selected a different path from her classmates. She decided not to seek any full-time job right after graduation but to search for opportunities to volunteer for some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or get involved in exchange programmes in several Southeast Asian countries.
She said that the number of programmes she took part in or their scales were not of significance. The most important thing was she grabbed the chances to travel around for post-graduation relaxation, in particular, to get her knowledge and experience enriched, expand relationships and gain necessary skills for her future career.
Half a year after graduation, Tam has yet to find a stable job but felt confident that her experiences are priceless and enrich the theories she gained at university.
From my personal viewpoint, any choices to pursue a career, either choosing to study at job centres or entering university, should be respected. There is also nothing wrong to choose to pursue an advanced degrees.
However, instead of thinking that studying a Masters is a way to kill dead post-graduation time and only a Masters degree can ensure a better job, take the Masters study time to deepen social knowledge and skills as well as language, in addition to gaining experience by taking a part-time job in an environment that you can learn something useful for your future.
Once graduates are ready to adapt to any working environment, they will no longer be passive in seeking jobs. There is a more urgent gap to fill rather than time gap. That is the gap between theories and reality. — VNS