Nguyen Van Duc graduated two years ago with a bachelor’s degree in economics from one of Vietnam’s best universities. Today, he earns about $250 a month as a motorbike taxi driver in Hanoi.
Duc, whose parents took second jobs so he could be the only one of three children to attend college, is among thousands of Vietnamese college graduates who can’t land jobs in their chosen field, even though the nation’s unemployment rate is just 2.3 percent.
“In university, we only received heavy theoretical training and a lot of Ho Chi Minh’s ideology with communist party history,” the 25-year-old said.
While Vietnam’s schools equip students with basic skills for low-wage assembly-line work, its colleges and universities are failing to prepare youth for more complex work. As wages rise and basic manufacturing leaves for less expensive countries, that may threaten the government’s ambition to attain middle-income status, defined by the World Bank as per capita income of more than $4,000, or almost twice the current rate.