Students at vocational schools will be taught communication skills as an optional subject from the next academic year, according to the Ministry of Education and Training.

Pham Nhu Nghe, the ministry’s Professional Education Department deputy director, said students will be taught how best to introduce themselves to others, listening skills, public speaking and conflict solving.

Lecturers will be required to have a degree and hold a communication skills certificate.

A ministry statement said Vietnamese workers are weak on communication.

The ministry said the public’s opinion on the programme will be sought before it is launched.

Nguyen Manh Kien, a student at the Vocational School for Technology and Business in Hanoi , said he and his classmates tend to focus on acquiring knowledge required to pass their exams.

“I get nervous speaking in front of an audience. However, I have never had training in public speaking,” Kien said.

A report last October by the World Bank entitled “Putting higher education to work: Skills and Research for Growth in East Asia” stated that insufficient attention was paid to “soft skills” such as communication, English language and social knowledge in Vietnam .

A recent survey of 240 students at the Health College in Tien Giang province last month showed that 30 percent of those who took part had no clue what was meant by the term “soft skills,” and did not know if they are good or bad communicators./.