VietNamNet Bridge – Hundreds of thousands of graduates fail to find jobs and yet businesses say they face a shortage of skilled employees.



Young people in the central province of Quang Binh take part in a job fair organised by the provincial Youth Union – Photo: VNA/VNS


Solutions to this labor market mismatch were discussed at a two-day international conference starting from Tuesday, co-organised by the Viet Nam Institute of Educational Sciences (VIES) and the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD).

A former assistant to the Minister of Education and Training, Pham Do Nhat Tien, said the main problem for Vietnamese labour is a shortage of professional skills among potential and current employees.

Tien said, according to ministry statistics, that 37 per cent of labourers lack practical experience; more than 21 per cent do not meet employer's foreign language requirement; and 20 per cent lack critical thinking skills required by businesses.

"Vietnamese labour faces three hurdles: corruption, poor access to finance and improper training," Tien said, adding that the third hurdle is the most serious.

In order to equip the labour force with professional skills, Tien said training institutions must co-operate with recruitment agencies, the businesses community, research centres, high schools and other training institutions.

Recent research by the World Bank indicates that Vietnamese training institutions often operate in isolation or are only loosely associated with such institutions, Tien said.

He added that the reason for the disunity was their lack of information, capacity, motivation and government policies that focused on labour force supply without considering employer needs.

Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs statistics say that more than 200,000 out of nearly 400,000 university graduates and postgraduates were unemployed in the first half of the year.

Tien said the shortage of skilled labour has become a pressing issue for those concerned with raising the country's competitiveness, especially with the ASEAN Economic Community on the horizon.

At the conference, Nguyen Minh Duong of VIES said, "The network of vocational institutions must reorganise to match the structure of the labour force, as well as the evolution of the labour market."

Duong suggested training schools also adjust their programmes to meet enterprises' needs.

He said one solution many experts suggested is that training institutions be included in enterprises and vice versa, then both could effectively support the production of market-oriented curriculums and qualified candidates.

Such models have been successfully adopted in many countries such as Japan and South Korea, Duong added.

However, participants at the conference warned that it was not easy for companies to establish schools internally. In Viet Nam, a few businesses set up schools but had ultimately failed due to investment capital shortages.

Director of Educational Quality Evaluation and Measurement Service Company, Le Duc Ngoc, said the gap between training quality and businesses' demands could not be erased, but perhaps narrowed.

He said vocational institutions should train students according to their capacity and offer them the chance to change their major during their studies, which might help them quickly adapt to market demands.