Even though the pandemic has caused unemployment to rise and people are looking for jobs, workers who’ve participated in the government’s free vocation education program say it is not effective and a waste of time.
Employees who pay social insurance are eligible to receive vocational training and career counseling free of charge. Each month, students enrolling in the program are supported with VND1 million ($43.42) for vocational training not exceeding six months. This aims to help people who had lost their jobs to acquire skills needed to make a career switch.
Vu Thanh Ha, 22, went to the Ho Chi Minh City Job Service Center at the end of March to complete procedures and access unemployment benefits. After working for four years at a factory in the southern province of Binh Duong, she decided to quit her job at the end of last year and go to the city to find new job opportunities. Once she completed all the paperwork, the employment service center recommended a number of occupations like tailoring and cooking.
Vu Thanh Ha files documents to receive unemployment allowance at the Ho Chi Minh City Job Service Center. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tuyet.
Not interested in the curriculum on offer, Ha ended up using all the money she had saved, around VND20 million ($868), to study professional photography.
Rejecting the free vocational education on offer seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers across the country are choosing not to participate in the free vocational training courses.
HCMC had more than 195,000 people receiving unemployment benefits last year, but less than 7,000 registered for vocational training. In Binh Duong, just 3,000 out of 102,000 registered jobless people were interested in vocational training.
According to data from the national social insurance agency, of more than one million people receiving unemployment benefits nationwide, only 16,000 people have said they need vocational training to change their career paths.
Ngo Xuan Lieu, director of the National Center for Employment under the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, admitted that the free vocational training program has failed to interest laid-off workers.
He gave several reasons for this. Some institutions were teaching skills for which there was no demand. Also, most of the unemployed are unskilled workers and living difficult lives, so when they lose their jobs, they focus on getting unemployment benefits, not on vocational training, he said.
Not attractive enough
Le Thi Kieu Phuong, director of the HCMC Job Service Center, said that the vocational training support level of VND1 million per month for a maximum of six months was not attractive enough for people to enroll in the program.
Furthermore, many vocational schools have poor facilities and do not offer much choice. Worse still, they do not offer training that matches current labor market needs.
Students, including laid-off workers, attend a vocational training class at the Ho Chi Minh City Job Service Center. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tuyet.
From the recruiters’ side, Nguyen Thi Lien, Deputy General Director of Phong Phu International Joint Stock Company in HCMC’s Thu Duc City, said that the training offered is basic.
She said the workers learn more on the job than at a vocational training school, so the question of the courses improving their skills does not arise.
Kieu Ngoc Hoa, human resource director with Samsung Co., Ltd. at the Hi-tech Park in Thu Duc, said that in order for vocational training to be effective, it was necessary to have better partnerships between employment service centers and businesses.
Instead of studying at designated vocational training centers, employees can train on modern equipment and machines directly at the enterprises that need workers. After completing a course, the enterprise can absorb qualified students.
Under a recent government decision, starting May 15, the vocational training support for those who lose their jobs will be increased from VND1 million to VND1.5 million per month.
For those undergoing training for less than three months, the support level will be calculated according to the vocational school’s tuition fees and actual study time, not exceeding VND4.5 million ($195.44) per course. For 3-6 month learners, the support level will be calculated by month, tuition fees and actual time of apprenticeship not exceeding VND1.5 ($65) per month.
According to the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, the new scheme will help curb the current jobless rate because most unskilled workers want to return to the market as soon as possible.