August 21, 2017

University education may lead to worse job prospects in Vietnam

University education may lead to worse job prospects in Vietnam

Unemployment amongst university graduates in Vietnam has reached 17% despite an overall unemployment rate of just 2.3%, according to a Vietnamese government report.

While there has been an expansion in the number of colleges and universities in Vietnam over the past decade, the quality of education is not consistent. Courses often focus on the history and ideals of Ho Chi Minh and socialism rather than developing skills for the workplace. The Deputy Head of the Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs, Luu Quang Tuan, said that state higher education can be “a big waste of time and money,” and that the lack of key skills such as teamwork and organization amongst graduates is “holding back the economy.”

As a result, there is a growing trend of Vietnamese students seeking higher education abroad. For example, the number of Vietnamese studying in Japan increased more than 12-fold between 2010 and 2016 to around 54,000.

The Vietnamese government has started making changes, but progress is slow. Nguyen Minh Thuyet is overseeing a new curriculum strategy from the Ministry of Education and says “we need to overhaul [university and college] curricula to reduce training of impractical subjects.” However “not much has been done.”

Private universities and training could provide the answer for some students, with the first independent institution approved by the government due to open later this year. Fulbright University Vietnam has received funding from the US State Department and will follow a western and ideologically balanced style of teaching.

Additionally, companies such as FPT Corp. and Intel Corp., specializing in telecoms and technology respectively, are investing heavily in setting up training programs and educational facilities for their workforces.

In an article for IZA World of Labor, Gustavo A. Yamada suggests that “a rapid increase in university graduates in developing countries might exacerbate overeducation and underemployment of professionals.” Points of concern include “weak job markets, low-quality university programs, and job–education mismatches.” Government interventions “should focus on the collection and dissemination of information on employability by career and institution, and on quality assurance measures … rather than trying to control the supply of higher education.”

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