New university graduates find work uncertain

For 22-year-old university graduate Nguyen Thi Ha, further education is the only choice she has after being knocked back by employer after employer.
For 22-year-old university graduate Nguyen Thi Ha, further education is the only choice she has after being knocked back by employer after employer.

Like most other students, Ha eagerly applied for many jobs after graduating from the Psychology Department at northern Thai Nguyen province's University of Education several months ago. However, she did not get one offer.

While waiting for a job opportunity, Ha decided to study for a master's degree. A friend persuaded her that higher education would bring better employment.

"Nearly half of my classmates are taking post-graduate courses like me," Ha said, adding that most also had difficulty finding jobs with a degree in psychology.

Nevertheless, Ha still wonders about her chances even with further study.

In another case, Pham Thu Ngan, who graduated with a master's degree in administration from the National Academy of Public Administration, said she still felt pessimistic about her future.

Ngan left the academy two years ago, but could not find work for six months - so she went back to her studies.

"It cost me about 20 million VND (nearly 1,000 USD) to attend a two-year master's course, but I am now not sure whether it can be helpful in applying for a job", Ngan said.

She added that she had sent her CV to many companies, but none had requested an interview.

"Some employers frankly said they did not need a master's degree holder because they would have to pay more than to a university graduate, especially in the current economic downturn".

Ngan now works as a cashier in a supermarket, for which she receives 3 million VND (142 USD) per month while continuing to search for a better job.

According to statistics data from central Da Nang city's University Post Graduate Department, there has been a trend for students to register for master's courses as soon as they graduate. Most of them still have no stable job.

Specifically, the proportion of students doing postgraduate courses was 15 to 20 per cent of total in 2010. This has risen to as much as 50 percent today.

Professor Phan Cao Tho, vice head of the department, said higher education is necessary to meet the demand for highly professional workers.

"However, many employers now value ability above qualifications. Therefore, postgraduates are advised to decide on a clear career orientation before deciding to follow higher education," Tho said.

As a human-resource consultant, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tu, from Iglocal Human Resource Company, said higher education develops qualities that are valued by employers, such as problem solving and communication skills. She felt that doing a higher education course could provide an edge in the fast-changing world of employment.

"If you decide to go on to higher education, you need to make sure the course you take best suits what you want to do with your life", Tu said.

In the first half of this year, the unemployment rate was reported to be 2.28 percent, an increase of 0.3 per cent over the same period last year, according to the General Statistics Office. And the figure seems to be growing due to economic downturn.

Tu said that a master's degree was no longer a "gold ticket" to employment, especially as applicants have to face severe competition.

"Employers now need staff with real capacity to work," she said, adding that those of similar age and experience are paid the same salary regardless what degrees they hold.

Tu also advised new graduated students like Ha and Ngan to look for simple jobs to gain experience, which is an important factor deciding whether they are hired.

About 130,000 workers are expected to be recruited from now until the end of this year, according to the Ho Chi Minh City's Centre for Forecasting Manpower Needs and Labour Market Information.-VNA

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