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Vietnam Country Director:
Minh Chau Nguyen
Student Recruitment Manager
RMIT University Vietnam

Experience Ho Chi Minh City for Yourself by Matthew Cowan

Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's biggest city and the nation's economic powerhouse. It gets hot, wet and dirty, not to mention loud, very loud. All of which you are likely to experience when you visit here for the 2019 Asia Pacific Career Development Conference.

The excitement of it all is contagious.

So what's there to do here?

Consider picking up a guidebook or going online and researching Ho Chi Minh City's history and its multitude of must-see sights!

When you do, you'll find you'll not only want to visit, but will research the best time to visit Reunification Palace, arguably Ho Chi Minh City's most intriguing building with a special history. The palace has become an iconic symbol of victory because of its link to the end of the war in 1975. Who can forget that photo of the North Vietnamese Army tank crashing through its front gates?

Any guidebook or travel blog will suggest you slip in to your itinerary the nearby War Remnants Museum as well. It's undeniable that a visit here helps you understand why Vietnam became known as a war above a nation of stoic but friendly people with a distinct culture from the rest of its Southeast Asian neighbors.

Then you could go old school and send a postcard from the Central Post Office, constructed in the 19th century when Vietnam was part of what was known as French Indochina. Right across the street is the Notre Dame Basilica, perhaps Ho Chi Minh City's most recognizable landmark until the city's tallest building, the 262.5m Bitexco Tower, shaped like a lotus (Vietnam's national flower), was completed in 2010.

Now it's the Bitexco Tower's turn to be eclipsed by the 461.5m Landmark 81 as the highest point in town, which should be housing tenants by the time of your visit here. Ho Chi Minh City is on the move.

But as we know, often it's the road less-traveled that provides the most enriching travel experiences. A path along which you can make your own decisions, eat what you like, talk to whoever you want, and rest when you need to.

Hungry? Stop for a banh mi. Thirsty? Stop for a craft beer. Weary? Pull in to a cool cafe.

There are myriad walks that visitors to Ho Chi Minh City can undertake, and you can start one anywhere. The walk I've put together especially for you has taken into account that you probably won't have much time to spare. After all, you've really got to fit that trip in to Hoi An, right?

Any walk in Ho Chi Minh City is best done in the morning when it's cooler and there's a vibrancy about town like no other part of the day. Also, much of the city closes down between the hottest hours of the day (typically between 1pm and 3pm) when the locals take a siesta and aren't overly keen on doing business.

And trust me, you don't want to be traipsing the streets lost in the middle of the day.

With this in mind, a morning walk will allow you to taste authentic pho noodle soup typical of the southern regions of Vietnam and you'll get to wash it down with that ubiquitous of Vietnamese drinks, the ca phe sua da - iced-coffee with condensed milk.

You'll take in a bit of history and architecture, but also come to terms with how rapidly things are changing here. Fortunately, however, there are still some vestiges of the past around for you to see, particularly along Dong Khoi Street.

It's impossible to visit Vietnam and not experience its cafe culture, so in route, I recommend a few places for you to try, but keep your eyes peeled, because you might just find something else that suits you better.

Like all the great cities of the world, a river runs through them. Ho Chi Minh City is no different, so my suggested itinerary takes you on a leisurely water bus ride along the Siagon River, which will give you an insight into how life is led along the banks of Vietnam's rivers - something you can't witness ashore.

There will be opportunities to try food and then some from a legendary local bakery and the city's innermost wet market. Whether you hit the Skydeck 49 floors above the city before or after your mi hoanh thanh is up to you. About the only recommendation I can make is that you leave room for some tea and cake afterwards.

Towards the end of your walk, you'll see more of the old and the new of Ho Chi Minh City. You'll see a Cold War-era collection of vintage motorbikes in a cafe run by a local who exemplifies the vibrancy and enthusiasm of young people in Vietnam today. There's no wonder Ho Chi Minh City has become a hotspot for startup companies and digital nomads.

Finally, my itinerary will take you by one of Vietnam's most famous landmarks, Ben Thanh Market, before finishing whence you started.

Whether you follow my entire itinerary or just choose snippets from it, I'm certain you'll learn something new, taste something unusual, and come to understand why I call this city home.

Matthew Cowan has been living in Ho Chi Minh City since 2010. Previously the managing editor of a major English language travel and lifestyle magazine in Vietnam, he now curates his own website called The Bureau: A Gentleman's Guide to Southeast Asia. Matthew's website provides a wealth of information about Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam, and is a great place to start planning your trip. For Matthew's suggested itinerary, click on this link:

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APCDA in Vietnam by Chau Nguyen

This report is in PDF format. It includes these articles:

  • Industry - University Collaboration in Career Orientation and Training
  • Vietnam’s Laborforce in the Face of Industry 4.0
  • Smart School Model to be Launched in Ho Chi Minh City
  • New Curriculum to Focus on Practical Applications
Click here to read these articles.

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Vietnam Snapshot

Compiled from by Chau Nyugen

Enrollment Surges in Vietnam's Vocational Schools

Vocational schools in Vietnam were long considered less favorable than universities. Today they are experiencing a spike in enrollment. Vocational schools, under the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, are becoming attractive to students because they guarantee employment to all students after graduation.

This is the first year the Ministry of Education and Training started maintianing separate enrollment data for vocational schools. Vocational schools made concerted efforts to attract students by updating core curriculum, connecting with enterprises and designing the course as per enterprises' demand to ensure employment for students.

Students in vocational schools enjoy short courses and are guaranteed jobs after graduation. Partnership programs between schools and enterprises help deliver training courses to students who are taken on as a graduate trainee in the school's partnered companies and the companies recruit students after graduation.

Vietnam Universities' New Ranking Stirs Controversy

The most reputable economics schools ranked below average on a list of 49 schools surveyed by a group of six specialists from Vietnamese and foreign institutions.

The ranking, announced on September 6, showed that some young schools, which are less prestigious in Vietnamese eyes, were rated highly, while the older schools, which set high requirements for incoming students, were ranked below average, or at the bottom of the list.

Hanoi National University is in the first position. The country's leading medical schools in HCMC and Hanoi are in the 18th and 20th positions, though they are well known as schools which select only the best students.

According to Le Truong Tung, president of FPT University, a good school must have good training, research, internationalization, and a high employment rate of graduates. He commented that the surveyors mostly considered the first two criteria, or 'classic criteria', while neglecting the other criteria, which are exceedingly important in the globalization era.

Doubts were raisedabout the sources of materials the specialists used to determine the ranking.

Meanwhile Nguyen Huu Duc, deputy director of the Hanoi National University, pointed out three shortcomings. First, there are no opinions from independent scientists. Foreign ranking organizations would appreciate opinions from scientists. For example, to assess a school with physics training, they would contact physicists to learn if the school has any famous professors or PhDs in the field.

Second, as there are multidisciplinary and single-training major schools, it is necessary to set up criteria for different groups of schools. Third, there are no opinions from employers.

The specialists assessed schools based on three criteria: scientific research, education quality, and infrastructure and management, with the first two accounting for 80 percent of the scores.

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Update from Vietnam by Minh Chau Nguyen

An overview of Vietnamese high school student's program choice in 2016

Key highlights of the 2016 HCMC Centre of Labour Forecasting career survey conducted with 120 high schools in Ho Chi Minh City:

  • Students chose a program according to the economic development of their cities and areas. The majority of students were interested in areas that have major growth such as Technology and Economic & Finance
  • In 2016, the demand for programs on Engineering/Technology was highest, occupied 24.84 % (a reduction of 1.20% is compared with 2015), which focused on the following industries: Electronics – Mechatronics; Information Technology; Food Technology; Architecture - Engineering construction.
  • The proportion of students selecting Economics & Finance programs was 14.90% (in 2015 only 14.50%), and is primarily geared toward programs in Marketing-Public Relations; Finance - Credit-banking; Accountancy and Auditing.
  • The trend of blocks across other professions also showed positive growth as follows: Tourist services - Restaurants - Hotels were 17.56%; IT (8.84%); MKT (6.82%); Engineering - Mechatronics (5.88%) ; translation (3.44%) ; Finances - Credit banking (2.89%)
  • Other area of interest also included: Pharmacy - Cosmetics (0.8%); Gas / Oils - Geology (0.17%); Textiles - Leather (0.75%)

Table 1: Career Trends of High School Students (HCM city) in 2016

Number Occupation Year 2016
1 Technology 25%
2 Business - Services 23%
3 Social Sciences-Humanities 17%
4 Administration-Management 7%
5 Economics-Finances 15%
6 Others 13%

University accounted for the highest percentage of 87.00% Bachelor degree; 7.00% college degree and middle - ranking took 6.00%.

Table 2: Trend of Level of Education (HCM city) in 2015 & 2016

Education / Degree 2015 2016
Bachelor 87% 87%
College 9% 7%
Middle-ranking 4% 6%

The newly established HCMC Centre for Career Education Practitioners Development (HCCEPD)

With the increasing need in Vietnam, and Ho Chi Minh City in particular, for a proper training program for Education Practitioners, the HCCEPD has been approved to start its operations by end of March. Up to this current time, there isn’t a professional training program for this important group of professionals who can provide career education for students at different levels of studies from secondary school up to university. The complete course consists a 7 days training of total 45 hours. The proposal received strong interest from the public sector. It hopes to train up 200 professionals in 2017.

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Career Planning in Secondary Schools in Vietnam by Chau Nguyen

In this update we would like to share a few key highlights in Vietnam in secondary education. They have created significant impact on Career Guidance Activities in Vietnam and required a shift in focus for practitioners and organizations when engaging with students from the high school sector.

Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) focuses to foster sciences and technology education through student activities and contests

MOET plans to achieve its goal of fostering and improving research and learning activities in science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects at HS through the following:

  • Encourage HS students to get involved in STEM research activities and apply relevant knowledge to resolve practical issues.
  • Encourage STEM teachers to research and apply new teaching and assessment methods to support student development in this area.
  • Encourage other educational institutions such as universities, research and development institutions, industries and individuals to support STEM activities at HS.
  • Provide opportunities for students and teachers to showcase and exchange their research through contests and exhibitions.

The National Foreign Languages 2020 project (2008-2020) and new regulations around compulsory and elective subjects for the Grade 12 graduation exam

The Vietnamese education system, from primary through high school, is strongly influenced and driven by the new direction of the National Foreign Languages 2020 project (2008-2020). The project's aim is to improve the English ability of Vietnamese students at all levels from primary to tertiary.

To facilitate the implementation of the regulations, MOET issued an English qualification framework. It consists of six levels and requires students to be at level 3 (B1) when they graduate from high school. It also focuses on teaching mathematics and some science subjects in English.

High School teachers are required to submit an IELTS certificate of 6.5 or alternatively to attend an intensive six-month English course created by MOET.

New Grade 12 graduation exam and new university entry requirements (2014-2015)

In the academic year 2014-2015, Vietnamese high school students could enroll in up to four universities using their high school graduation results for four continuous intakes (August, September, October and November).

As a result, most students gained a place in a university or college but not necessarily in their preferred program. A second result was that most local universities were able to fill seats but did not get the top quality students that they were expecting.

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Toward a More Student-Centered Career Guidance in Secondary Education in Vietnam by Nguyen Thi Chau and Filip Lenaerts

The Flemish Association for Development Cooperation and Technical Assistance (VVOB) is a non-profit organization that, by order of the Belgian and the Flemish Government, contributes to the improvement of the quality of education in developing countries. VVOB has been working in Vietnam since 1992. Its initial approach of sending hands-on experts in education and agriculture to local Universities and Colleges gradually transformed into a more results-based approach, focusing on institutional capacity development. Building on the experience of the 2008-2010 Education and Agricultural Extension Programs, VVOB launched a Career Guidance Program in 2011 to support the enhancement of Study and Career Guidance in secondary education in Vietnam. Since 2014, VVOB is specializing in education and is focusing on Early Education in Vietnam, complemented with a 2014-2015 extension of its work in Career Guidance.

The Career Guidance Program targets teachers, school leaders and parents of secondary students. The operational partners are the Departments of Education and Training and Women's Union in Nghe An and Quang Nam provinces, as well as the Department of Teachers and Educational Administrators of the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) and the Vietnam Women's Union at the national level. Study and Career Guidance in secondary education in Vietnam follows two tracks: (i) Career Orientation is provided through specific periods and extra-curricular activities; and (ii) vocational taster courses, called education for general professions, are delivered at secondary schools and Centers for Vocational Education and Career Orientation.

When VVOB launched its Career Guidance Program, a situation analysis showed that materials on Career Guidance were outdated, teachers were not trained on providing Career Guidance and parents, based on their own preferences, were deciding on career choices for their children. In this context, students' interests and capacities were marginally considered. Following a review of current policies and guidelines, international and national experiences and a search for existing expertise in the country, VVOB supported the provincial partners in developing their own vision of Career Guidance.

This Career Guidance vision provides a reference framework for the integration of program interventions and reference materials. With a strong expertise in supporting education for development, VVOB Vietnam focuses on capacity development of its partners to develop contextualized materials, support career guidance practice in secondary schools and support and enhance skills of provincial core group trainers in charge of training teachers, school leaders and women's club facilitators. We have started from commonly used and validated Career Guidance theories and translated these into practices through easy-to-use instruments and tools. To date, six different Career Guidance resources and three supportive DVDs were developed for school leaders and secondary teachers. These materials are used by provincial partners to facilitate different modalities to guide students in their study of career choices in line with four main "career guidance paths" as guided by MOET. In addition to the training materials developed, an online portal for Career Guidance has been set up to provide information and support on study and career choices:

Following almost three years of program implementation, approximately 28,000 secondary teachers, including 17,260 female teachers, have received some level of training in Career Guidance through the provincial Departments of Education and Training. The model of "Education and Life Clubs," used by the provincial Women's Union to deliver Career Guidance activities to parents, has been recognized by the national Women's Union as a best practice. From 2013 onwards, Study and Career Guidance has been taken up by the national Women's Union as an important subject for enhancing parenting skills of mothers and fathers. The National Program for 5 million mothers has added the study of career guidance activities of Education & Life Clubs to the list of regular activities for all provinces.

Building on the initial success of the 2011-2013 program, VVOB Vietnam has committed to support the partners in further improving Career Guidance in Vietnam in the next two years. The extension will focus on sustainability of earlier achieved results in three ways: (i) by supporting in-depth institutionalization of technical knowledge built among partners and their core groups, including gender mainstreaming; (ii) by enlarging the reach of this student-centered, gender-sensitive Career Guidance approach to a nation-wide scope; and (iii) by documenting and sharing innovative practices in secondary schools.

New materials on career guidance developed by the program in collaboration with partners

Teachers sharing experiences in
implementing CG activities

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