A new career guidance programme aims to help students between the 9th and 12th grades gain better access to information about career paths and job opportunities.

The programme, to be available next year, will support students in making well-considered decisions on selecting suitable vocational schools or universities in north central Nghe An and south central Quang Nam provinces.

The Flemish Association for Development Co-operation and Technical Assistance from Belgium (VVOB) is set to run the programme in partnership with the local departments of education and women's unions.

Details on the programme were offered at a workshop held in Hanoi on Dec.3, which brought together teachers and educational officials at provincial levels and stakeholders involved for discussion and planning.

The new programme is integrated into VVOB's existing teaching programme for the 2008-13 period, which supports the Government's policy of student-centred learning by co-operating with the local departments of education, women's unions and teachers training institutes in the five provinces of Thai Nguyen, Quang Ninh, Nghe An, Quang Nam and Quang Ngai.

"Career guidance is somehow ignored in Vietnam and many other countries, including even Belgium , despite it being a very important part of education," said Wilfried Theunis, the programme's manager from VVOB.

Theunis said this was the reason for VOOB's decision to launch the programme in Vietnam . He pointed out that so far only limited efforts have been directed to developing career guidance, which is an important factor in linking the education system to the labour market.

According to Theunis, the new programme aims to make information on professional opportunities readily available to teachers and educational experts to equip them with sufficient skills in career guidance, while also offering more information on career options to students.

The planned activities include development of an information database at the provincial level, training and development of training materials for career guidance and activities at the communal level to raise awareness about career guidance, including the value of technical and vocational education and training.

"Students should know that going to university is not the only option they have in pursuing a successful career," said Theunis.

By 2013, the programme is expected to be extended to other provinces if successful in Nghe An and Quang Ngai./.