When home isn't where the heart is: Vietnam plans to 'export' unemployed graduates

By Hoang Phuong   July 3, 2017 | 07:32 pm PT
When home isn't where the heart is: Vietnam plans to 'export' unemployed graduates
Workers about to take a Korean language test in hope of getting a job in South Korea, June 2017. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
The project looks to send 54,000 unemployed graduates overseas.

In a bid to tackle unemployment at home, Vietnam's labor ministry is drafting a plan to send skilled workers to work overseas between 2018 and 2025.

The project envisages sending over 54,000 unemployed graduates from universities, colleges and vocational schools to work in Japan, South Korea and Germany in two phases.

From 2018 to 2020, it would see 14,700 workers sent to Germany, 1,500 to Japan and 1,800 to South Korea to work in the fields of nursing, IT, electronics, mechanical engineering, telecommunications, and physical and biological technologies. 150 of the workers sent to South Korea would also work as chefs in the country's restaurants and hotels.

The second phase from 2021 to 2025 would see another 39,000 workers sent to those three countries, in addition to expanded access to ASEAN and the UAE's labor markets in the beauty industry, hotel and restaurant services, engineering and construction.

However, the ministry is still in the process of negotiating the scheme with the three recipient countries, as well as determining their specific needs in the proposed fields.

The project is expected to receive VND1,3 trillion ($57.2 million) from the state budget.

At the end of March this year, Vietnam had about 326,000 unemployed people with university, college, vocational school or other higher education degrees, according to official data.

At present, about 500,000 Vietnamese people are working overseas. However, about half of them are low-skilled workers.

The chronic lack of skilled labor has increasingly stalled Vietnam's growth and could hinder foreign investment in the country, experts say. Foreign and local companies have continued to lament that Vietnam's poorly trained graduates have left them struggling to find enough recruits.

“While this has allowed Vietnam to maintain lower labor costs than its neighbors, especially China, it will also restrict the country’s ability to attract investments in high technological manufacturing,” Healy Consultants Group, a professional services firm, said in a report last May.

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