Students of the Dong An Politechnic in the southern province of Binh Duong during a practice period (Photo: VNA)

Tuition for all students at vocational schools will be reduced by 50 percent from this month, according to the Ministry of Finance.

The decision, specified in Circular No 14/2015 jointly signed by three relevant ministries, is hoped to boost vocational training and education, which is in need of more students.

Financial support will also be offered to vocational school students from poor and remote areas during their study, the ministry said.

All students who have graduated from secondary schools will have the right to benefit from this tuition support.

Duong Duc Lam, General Director of the Directorate of Vocational Training, said despite efforts to improve study and training quality, most vocational training schools in Vietnam struggle to recruit students.

Lam said there are several reasons for this, one being parents desire for their children to attend university, not vocational schools.

He said many parents want their children to get a university or college degree and think this will make them more employable than a vocational certificate.

They do not know or ignore the fact that the number of unemployed graduates in Vietnam is high, about 178,000 this year alone, and this undoubtedly will increase in the coming years, said Lam.

"They might not have known that many students who graduate from vocational training schools can more easily find a job and be paid higher than those who graduate from universities," said he.

The official revealed a plan to build a total of more than 45 vocational schools across the country to educate more students.

These schools should be equipped with modern technology to train students to the highest standard of vocational training, he said.

Vietnam’s universities are churning out more graduates than the country can employ, while vocational training schools are struggling to attract students to fulfill the labour market's demand for skilled workers.

Each year, about 1 million high school students graduate and more than 80 percent of them take university entrance exams.

About 60 percent will pass the exams. But those who fail university entrance exams refuse to attend vocational schools, said an official from the National Institute for Vocational Training.

Only 10 percent of senior high school graduates enroll in vocational training schools, said the official, who wished to remain anonymous.

He said many vocational schools have failed to attract large numbers of high school graduates because high schools tend to encourage students towards university. Parents often make the problem worse by encouraging their children to go to university without thinking about their abilities.

Many students who failed the university entrance exam said they wait for next year's exam instead of applying for a vocational school.

Facing a severe student shortage, many vocational training school classrooms equipped with expensive tools and machinery are going unused as enrollment remains stagnant.-VNA