One in 10 Vietnamese university graduates jobless

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Nguyen Thi Bich Thi (R), 25, graduated with a degree in journalism nearly two years ago, but is now working as a salesperson at a supermarket / PHOTO COURTESY OF TUOI TRE

The unemployment rate among Vietnamese university graduates is increasing, and at the moment one of every 10 graduates is jobless, according to the General Statistics Office.

Nguyen Thi Xuan Mai, chief of the office's Department for Population and Labor Statistics, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that in 2010, nearly 60,000 university graduates between the ages of 21-29 were unemployed, accounting for 6.84 percent of the total unemployed population under 30.

This year, the number of jobless university graduates surged to 101,000, accounting for 9.89 percent of the total population of unemployed people, she said, adding that the rate soared to 11.75 percent in the third quarter.

Vietnam's comprehensive unemployment rate has been estimated at 2.2 percent this year.

Tran Anh Tuan, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Forecasting Manpower Needs and Labor Market Information, said the increased unemployment rate among university graduates was "understandable" given the slumping economy.

He said the figures showed that graduates had been made redundant by economic development that has failed to match university output.

He told Tuoi Tre that HCMC needs about 265,000 new workers -- of whom university graduates account for 13 percent -- every year. But 70,000 students graduate from local universities and colleges annually, double the demand.

Thus, harsh competition for jobs, and joblessness, were "certain," he said.

"It is important to balance human resource supply and demand in each sector."

He said students should choose the majors they are passionate about, instead of just studying what they or their families think will land them good jobs.

He also advised state agencies to make the public more aware of  labor market information so that people unemployed in one sector can more easily find work in another. He said the government should also do a better job of forecasting labor demand in each sector and locality. 

In September, Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan told the National Assembly that many Vietnamese students failed to find a job, or work in a field different from their majors after graduation, partly due to the economic downturn.

Another reason is that a lack of information about labor market demand has left both universities and students in the dark.

For the last two years the education ministry has tried to rectify this somewhat by issuing warnings about fields in which demand for jobs was low.

This year it stopped licensing new universities to teach disciplines that have been p roducing too many graduates in fields for which demand is low such as finance, banking, business administration, and accounting, Toui Tre reported.

The ministry has also been scaling down the number of students that universities specializing in pedagogy are able to receive.

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