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Vietnam Country Information

Vietnam Representative:
Phoenix Ho
Founder and CEO
Song An Career Development Social Enterprise

Vietnam@AsiaPacificCDA.org


May 2021 Vietnam Report

The Vietnam CDP (Career Development Practitioners) Competency Framework, initiated by the Vietnam APCDA team, sponsored by Song An Career Development Social Enterprise, was published in Vietnamese at the end of April 2021. View link here. The English version will be available at the end of May 2021. Vietnam CPD Competency Framework was created following the below steps:

Literature review of APCDA Career Services Competencies, Competency Framework for Career Development Practitioners in South Africa, CICA’s Professional Standards for Australian Career Development Practitioners, and NCDA’s Career Counseling Competencies.

Initial input from Marilyn Maze of APCDA; review and input from Col McCowan and Mary McMahon from Australia and Connie Pritchard from the USA.

Input from career practitioners in Vietnam to make the materials suitable for the local usage.

The main difference between Vietnam CDP Competency Framework and the others is that the former one provides the “Observable Behaviors” for each listed competency. This part was  specifically requested by the local career practitioners.  The project team plans to receive ongoing feedback from the users for further development of this framework one year from now.

Vietnam CDP now has 22 members, compared to 12 members in 2019. That is an increase of 80%, bringing us to the 6th largest member country.

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January 2021 Vietnam Report

  1. Vietnam CDP (Career Development Practitioners) Competency Framework, initiated by the Vietnam APCDA team, sponsored by Song An Career Development Social Enterprise, will be published in English and Vietnamese at the end of February 2021.
  2. The Scholarship Team Member of APCDA has encouraged Vietnamese candidates to apply for the scholarships APCDA annual scholarships. So far there is one applicant from Vietnam. We will be working harder with individuals to encourage them to apply for the scholarship.
  3. A career guidance book for parents was published in the last quarter of 2020 by Song An Career Development Social Enterprise and was warmly welcomed by the parents.
  4. The Competency Development Center of Van Lang University has applied the Career Services Delivery Model to serve their current 30,000 students. By that they mean: the information channel that is accessible to all students, live stream events where a large number of students can attend and/or review later in their free time, small-group programs where fewer students participate, and one on one career consulting service for those who need further assistance. Van Lang University has also integrated career education into the entry courses (college studying course, community course, teamwork course) for 1st-year students.

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October 2020 Vietnam Report

COVID-19’s impact on Vietnam: The country’s GDP was still growing at a 0.4 percent in the second quarter of 2020 (an exceptional rate during the pandemic), but it was the worst performance recorded over the past 35 years. The Ministry of Labor also reported that urban unemployment rose by 33 percent during the second quarter, while the average income per worker decreased by five percent. Granted, thanks to the easing of social distancing since late April, most family businesses have resumed their activities, and almost all wage workers are back to work, according to a recent phone survey conducted by the World Bank Group.

Policy news: The Ministry of Education and Training announced the Draft Circular regulating career guidance, job counseling and start-up support in educational institutions. Department of Political Education and Student Affairs has been collecting input from all who have interests in this subject. The Circular is expected to be implemented in year 2021. This is good news for the career development practitioners’ community in Vietnam.

Career development job news: Recruiting for the career consultants from the local universities and high schools increased in year 2020.

  • Van Lang University recruited 4 career consultants
  • British University Vietnam recruited a couple of career services staff
  • Fulbright University Vietnam recruited a career counselor
  • Tue Duc high school recruited 1 career teacher
  • And a number of other high schools recruited career teachers as well

For a country which is still in the infantry stage of career development, this is positive news for those practitioners who want to find employment in the career development field.

Career education news: Van Lang University successfully introduced career development topic into an elective course, the first of its kind in Vietnam.

E-Training news: Song An Career Development Social Enterprise successfully provided their 100% online training programs to the parents and the teachers of 28 provinces/cities (out of 68) in Vietnam and 4 countries outside of Vietnam.

Vietnam Competency Framework: APCDA Vietnam has been working on building the competency framework for the Vietnamese career practitioners. We passed the first phase of receiving input from international experts. Now we are in the second phase of collecting feedback from the local practitioners. We hope to launch the framework in December 2020.

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Whats happening with Career Development in Vietnam? by Vietnam Insight (Hon Viet) Team Members Phoenix Ho, Dang Phuong Uyen, and Le Tuan Anh

Career development in Vietnam is still at its early stage. With an increasing demand for developing a local network in this field, we organized the first Vietnam career conference with the topic 'Multi-perspectives on Career Development' in December 2018. The conference attracted 130 participants including career practitioners, teachers, and human resources professionals.

On the other hand, a few years ago, a small group of educators planted a seed of hope to bring the APCDA conference to Vietnam. The dream has come true. The annual APCDA 2019 conference was hosted in our homeland from May 21 to 25. This is the largest APCDA conference so far with the participation of 234 career development professionals from around the world to share their best case practices and research.

What will happen next?

Since its inception in 2018, Vietnam Insight (Hon Viet) always strives to build a community of dedicated and competent Vietnamese career practitioners. We have offered train-the-trainer programs to better equip career consultants, teachers, as well as parents with necessary competencies to fulfill their roles. Until June 2019, nearly 200 career consultants, teachers, and parents completed the training programs. After completing the training program, the graduates were asked to join the biweekly, peer-supervision, career guidance sessions or monthly group supervision. We also organized key events throughout the year to strengthen our still small yet active career development network. For instance, a conference named 'Gather to learn' was held by Vietnam Insight in June 2018 in Ho Chi Minh City. Sixty-seven Vietnamese career practitioners throughout Vietnam gathered to foster peer learning through six sharing sessions and other learning activities.

Furthermore, we are building a career resources platform for youth, parents and career practitioners. With the backbone-based theory of careers and vocational choice by John L. Holland and other important career theories, we have introduced popular career assessment tools and existing career resources such as ILO publications to the public. Also, we have created initiatives tailored to the needs of younger users. An example of this is the illustration book of 6 Holland codes. Our industry overview webinars and real people profiles are also getting good feedback from the audience.

Although this is still a new field in Vietnam, career development is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years in our country. Therefore, we look forward to connecting more with career-oriented organizations and international experts to learn and exchange career experiences.

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Phoenix Ho is currently the director of the Career Education and Guidance Center of Vietnam Insight (Hon Viet). Ms Ho has over ten years of experience in the field of education, counseling, career counseling, and career guidance education. Some of her skills include career services leadership and management, program management, train-the-trainer facilitating, career counseling, career program teaching, curriculum development, MBA course lecturing, parenting workshop facilitating, community radio show hosting, substance abuse prevention, data collection and analysis, interviewing and writing, theatre art performing, and classroom management. Ms Ho is recognized by students, clients, staff, and colleagues as a passionate counselor, effective team player, holistic leader, and community change agent.

Uyen Dang is a change-maker at heart. She aspires to leverage the power of social entrepreneurship and guidance services towards creating systemic changes in education. Ms Dang is at the first stepping-stone of her new journey at Vietnam Insight to co-create and sustain a Careers Education and Guidance center following the Teal Organization model introduced in the book Reinventing Organizations, by Frederic Laloux. Her previous work spanned from leading youth organizations/working groups such as Enactus UEH, AIESEC HCMC and WEF Global Shapers HCMC, to fostering public-private partnerships for innovations such as Circular Economy projects with leading multinational companies and the Frontier Innovators program of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's innovationXchange to support impact businesses in the Asia-Pacific region.

Anh Tuan Le is the career counselor at the Career Education and Guidance Center of Vietnam Insight. With a background in communication, Mr. Le built a very strong personal branding as a blogger of career development among Vietnamese youth. He also published two books about job searching and personal branding. Mr. Le loves working with students, helps them to explore their career journey based on their personal development.

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A Snapshot of The Challenges for New Graduates by Chau Nguyen, Vietnam Country/Regional Director, APCDA

Graduation is a milestone marking the official transition from school to work. While the prospect of future employment seems promising, new graduates in Vietnam have their own concerns and challenges in seeking jobs according to a latest report from Navigos, the leading recruitment agency in Vietnam. The report points out challenges students face and suggestions on how to overcome those challenges. It sheds light on how higher education institutions and employers can assist students in work readiness with appropriate strategies and solutions.

Of the main findings, a lack of career orientation is one of the major factors that hinders fresh graduates from seeking jobs; 38% of respondents admit this unclear career orientation. Others factors include:

  • lack of job availability in their fields of study (33%)
  • low average starting salary (36%)
  • 33% express that they lack job searching skill
  • 35% think they are unqualified for the job openings due to their qualifications, soft skills, work experience and language competency.

The Navigos' report also reveals an evident gap between school-delivered knowledge and real work practice; according to 61% of respondents. Because of this and previously mentioned challenges, the respondents expect schools to provide active guidance and support in career orientation. Over 67% of respondents demand schools to organize workshops with industry guest speakers as well as develop real-world internship program through partnership with suitable host companies (66%). In addition, 49% expect schools to provide soft skills training workshops and foreign language training (53%).

Looking to a future 5-year career plan post graduation, 29% of respondents expect to be promoted to managerial positions, whereas 26% of respondents wish to try out various jobs before committing to one position. Notably, less than 10% show an interest in pursuing a postgraduate degree. As far as the readiness for Industry 4.0 is concerned, while 46% of respondents show their interest in and preparation to embrace the changes of the fourth industrial revolution, more than half of them show little to no interest or provide neutral opinion.

The Navigos' report lays out suggestions for education institutions, employers and new employees to tackle challenges and grasp opportunities.

To be effective providers of a capable workforce, schools should understand the evolving demands from the job markets and accordingly equip students with a proper mindset and the needed knowledge and skills, especially in an era where Industry 4.0 is gaining prominence, to successfully embrace changes. Schools should develop and expand close links with employers in training and leveraging the next generation of the workforce. Schools should also provide support to students through career orientation, workshops, careers fairs and more.

To attract, engage and retain young employees, employers are encouraged to develop a thorough employee journey encompassing pre-recruitment, recruitment and on-the-job stages where clear career roadmaps and progressive training are critical factors. Employers should customize positions suitable to new graduates and transparently assist them with developing their career paths. Employers should prioritize training and development in order to enhance young employees via internal courses, mentorship or external training programs.

In order to ensure a smooth transition from school to work, students should actively prepare themselves for employment with the right mindset and necessary knowledge and skills. They should be self-motivated and notice requirements from the job markets. Life-long learning is needed to remain relevant and compatible with ever-changing requirements. They should seek support and guidance from supervisors and other field experts to best develop a clear career path. In addition, in the age of globalization and with Vietnam as a top FDI recipient in the region, new graduates must improve language competency and soft skills in order to boost career prospects. As the fourth Industrial revolution brings about changes at an unprecedented speed and impacts to the labor market, new graduates should strive to stay on top of change in order remain secure in the marketplace.

Link to the full report

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Vietnam Snapshot

Compiled from Vietnam.net 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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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: www.emchonnghegi.edu.vn.

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.

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