Gen Z grapples with shrinking job market

By Quang Huong   February 13, 2024 | 03:00 pm PT
Gen Z grapples with shrinking job market
People apply for unemployment insurance in Ho Chi Minh City in July 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung
Many Gen Z people are struggling to find jobs as businesses scale down operations amid the economic downturn.

Ho Chi Minh City has over 300,000 businesses, but none of them were willing to hire Thanh Nga, 25, last year.

"I have experience in customer service but was not able to find a job after submitting CVs to over 50 businesses in HCMC, Da Lat and Binh Duong," she says.

She looked for a job on online platforms and social media groups.

"In 2018 usually somebody would call me soon after I submitted my CV, but last year I received no call most of the time."

Nga is among an increasing number of Gen Z people, or those born between 1997 and 2012, who are struggling to find jobs in the post-Covid economy.

Youths accounted for 41.3% of unemployed people last year, up from 37.6% from 2022. This meant 437,300 people aged between 15 and 24 had no jobs, according to the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs.

Nguyen Hoang Ha, an officer in the International Labour Organization, says people who graduated since Covid-19 are among the "quarantined generation" who had to go through disruptions in the labor market and in education and training.

Another HCMC local, Thu Thuy, 24, had struggled to find a job in 2022 when the economy reopened after two years of the pandemic.

She submitted 30 CVs and went to more than a dozen interviews but failed to find a job since most companies asked for months of experience, which she could not get due to Covid travel restrictions.

She says: "Employers often want at least six months of experience but I did not have that. I used to think that having a college degree would guarantee a job but turns out that is not the case."

Economist Nguyen Minh Phong said the unemployment among youths is a global trend as companies often lay off the most inexperienced staff when the situation becomes difficult.

Many urban Vietnamese youths have high expectations about salaries and will rather wait for a good opportunity than work for low pay, he adds.

Thuy says some companies offered her a job for VND6 million ($244), but she declined, saying she needed at least VND7 million to pay the bills in expensive HCMC.

Embarrassed, she lied to her family in the countryside that she was still working.

But the economy alone is not to blame.

Ha of ILO advises people in the 15-24 age group to educate themselves in technology and soft skills such as group collaboration and problem solving to meet the increasing demands on the labor market.

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