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Starting pay of $2,000: dream or illusion?

Update: December, 07/2016 - 09:00
Viet Nam News

By Bích Hường

“What should I study to get a job with a starting salary of $2,000 a month?”

The question has generated public discussion after being raised recently by Phạm Thị Thanh, a third-year student at Academy of Cryptography Technology, during a talk on the role and responsibility of the young in an information society.

Many people, including experienced employers, employees and students, say such pay is unrealistic, especially for new college graduates in Việt Nam who usually lack experience, sometimes need to be re-trained to meet job requirements and often cannot find work.

It’s unrealistic because those making $2,000 a month usually hold senior posts and have years of experience. According to, managers of major groups or State-owned companies in Việt Nam reported average monthly salaries of about $2,000 or more.

New graduates usually struggle to find jobs and have to make do with a starting salary of VNĐ 5-7 million.

That is low but reflects economic reality: last year, Việt Nam reported a per capita GDP of VNĐ 45.7 million ($2,109) a year, which is expected to reach $2,200 this year.

In response to Thanh’s question at the talk, the director general of Việt Nam Cyberspace Technology Joint Stock Company, Khổng Huy Hùng, said he did not think a new graduate could generate revenues of $10,000-$15,000 a month for the company so that he could offer him/her a starting salary of $2,000.

The director of SUN UP Media, Huỳnh Mai An Đông, tells that as an employer, she is disappointed to see new graduates so impatient.

“They ask for a high salary as they have good learning results, but it’s not enough,” she said, adding that instead of asking for high pay, they should work, accumulate skills and experience and will eventually be rewarded."

The chairwoman of Sun Flower Media, Trần Thị Thiên Hương, says young people dream dreams and set goals and should be encouraged to do so. “The more important thing is what and how they do to realise the dreams,” Hương says.

The head of the human resources department of Citigo Software Joint Stock Company, Nguyễn Anh Việt, says that any job seeker can get a job with a much higher salary than the average if they obtain knowledge, apply what they learn, master a foreign language, are creative, studious and catch up with global trends in their field.

Particularly, in the information and technology sector, students can work for overseas companies while attending university. It will then be reasonable for them to ask for a high starting salary after graduating because they’ve already got experience and skills.

Nguyễn Thu Hà, a teacher, agrees that a key task of educators is to help students dream.

Schooling cannot provide them with everything to make their dreams come true, but hopefully can provide them with skills to raise questions, find answers and solve problems. Young people should be encouraged to keep learning and experiencing so they can reach higher goals, but many set limitations for themselves, such as asking for a starting pay of $2,000 for a new graduate. The fact that few or no new graduates in Việt Nam have received a starting salary of $2,000 doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, she adds.

Michael Port, author of the New York Times Bestseller “The Think Big Manifesto: Think You Can’t Change Your Life (And The World)? Think Again”, said that “sometimes we assign the role of ‘Big Thinker’ to some people, but we don’t necessarily see ourselves in that role. Often, that’s because of ’voices of judgment’ – either negative peers and colleagues telling you why something will never work, or (even more damaging) your own internalized voice, telling you the same thing.”

But in order to truly thrive, he says, "we have to let go of our self-imposed limitations – ’I can’t talk to that person; she’ll never hire me; that idea is too risky’ – and give things a try". — VNS

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