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No integration with only Engineer degree, Doctorate degree’s holders
16:15' 12/21/2015
A common perception today is that vocational school is only seen as last resort for the youth if their dream of entering university is unattainable.

Vietnam’s contestant Nguyen Duy Thanh (first one from the right) who won a medal at WorldSkill Competition

At WorldSkill competition taking place from 5 – 17/8 in Brazil, Vietnam for the first time has won a medal after 5 attendances. Aside from the bronze medal, Vietnam delegation also obtained 8 Certificate of Vocational Excellence, Vietnam participated in a number of profession such information technology, CNC milling, welding for the first time. Vietnamese contestants returned home on 19/8.
This news draws far little press and public attention than news of university valedictorians,  Olympic delegations or contestants in the game show The Road to Olympia. But this is certainly a good news for people who concern with the situation of “lacking highly skilled workers but abundance of teachers”, and with Vietnam’s labor productivity.

Selection of vocational training only after the collapse of university dream

International Labour Organization (ILO) ranked Vietnam’s labour productivity as one of the lowest in Asia due to untrained labour force that lack soft skill [1]. In 9/2014, Lao Dong newspaper cited the assessment of this organization saying, less than 20% of Vietnam’s labor force are professionally trained and skills equipped tend to be inappropriate with market demand [2]. Lack of highly skilled workers is a concern raised by majority of foreign enterprises operating in Vietnam.
By the end of 2015, there are 1,456 vocational training institutions across the country which largely concentrate in cities and take form of vocational center, vocational secondary school or vocational college [3]. A common perception today is studying in vocational schools is considered as last resort for many young people only if their university dream is unattainable. This derives from a variety of reasons.
The first factor is perception. It seems that we still immerse in the notion that vocational training only serves physical, manual jobs that require little creativity, research. In fact, vocational training, like any other profession, necessitates aptitude, passion, serious learning spirit, professional style, endeavor. That is absolutely not an alternative and coercive option. This thinking is more accentuated by the prejudice of vocational schools formed by many people who have long been obsessed with the notion that university is the only door to a bright future.
It is not difficult to see that the results of international mathematic, physics competitions receive a great deal of attention from the public but a great amount of public inattention for the results of skill competitions can also be observed.  Should this discrimination persist?
In term of support of facilities, vocational schools are not appropriately invested, majority of supports can only meet 50% demand for training (according to an calculation in 2011) while most equipments are obsolete. Looking at appearance of the classrooms also enables us to recognize substantial difference between vocational schools  and other universities, colleges.
Shall not be considered “junior”
In term of perception, skilled workers and students of vocational schools shall be seen as an elite force not “junior” force. In fact, the contribution of highly skilled workers to the socio-economic development can be more specific, more realistic and easier measured than bachelor, doctor degree’s holders.
Their status and contribution must be recognized, supported, complimented through concrete actions. Preferential policies, policy that supports education transfer or support for establishment of vocational associations can be cited as some examples. It is unfair when there are too many associations for academic scientists while a million of vocational laborers does not have their own forums.
Addressing the lack of highly skilled workers shall be more prioritized than “socializing” the training of bachelors, masters, doctors. The figure of 178,000 unemployed bachelor, master degree’s holders recently published calls for serious examination of the desire of socializing …higher education.
Vocational training is essential for a country in a period of industrialization, modernization and integration. Thereby, investment into classrooms, facilities shall be appropriate. Each individual has their own strength and capability and as long as they contribute to the development of the nation, they need to be respected.
It is hard to accept a fact that there are some doctorate degree’s holders who do not make any contribution during their whole life but receive more preference than those workers who drop sweat and devote their intellectual capability to the creation of tangible products that meet actual demand of the society.
Integration is impossible without the workers
The story in which the country produces thousand of engineers every year but unable to make a mechanic screw used to heat up debate in the press but also in National Assembly debate. There are foreign enterprises that spent dozen of billion US dollar on importing equipments from other countries into Vietnam for assembly and they are still waiting for domestic producers to produce these equipments.
This situation calls for investment into support industry. But this does not only requires machinery, technology, capital…but also skilled workers.
I myself believe that only proper reform, appropriate investment and rational preferential policies can propel the Vietnam’s labor productivity, meeting the demand of the economy. Especially, considering that we are no less capable than neighboring countries in terms of human resource as we have billion of working-age workers.
Every time when I listened to the stories of invention made by “rural” scientists who did it with their own hand using incomplete components but their product is highly applicable, I wondered myself what are thousand of our engineers, doctorate degree’s holders doing? Thousand of vocational institutions are operating or falling into winter sleep?
Nguyễn Công Thảo
[1] Degree is abundant but capability is lacking! , Dân trí news, 24/07/2015 .
[2] One Singaporean is as productive as 15 Vietnameses, Lao động news, 04/09/2014.
[3] The Ministry of Labour admits the situation of unskilled, poor quality labor, Giáo dục news, 23/01/15.


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