Boosting decent employment opportunities for Vietnam’s disadvantaged youth
Vietnamese youth face daunting challenges when approaching the labour market. In Vietnam, not only is unemployment an urgent issue, but also underemployment and informal work undermine the younger generation’s future and quality of life.
According to the International Labour Organization, Vietnam is one of the Asia-pacific countries with the highest prevalence of vulnerable jobs. In 2017, 60% of Vietnam’s youth were employed in informal jobs, which are often characterized by unsafe and unstable employment, with a low income, long working hours, and limited access to social protection.
Another relevant problem is the shortage of skilled workers matching the demand of the job market, a situation that convinced the Vietnamese government to consider the upskilling of the workforce a priority in the national development agenda.
REACH, a Vietnamese non-profit organization specializing in providing vocational training and job placement services for disadvantaged youth, has been pivotal in delivering a solid solution for young jobseekers.
The NGO offers quality education and job placement to 16 – 30 years old youth from underprivileged backgrounds who struggle to access official training and employment opportunities due to financial restraints, social stigma and discrimination.
Thanks to its market-orientation and business engagement approach, REACH addresses the skills mismatch between demand and supply by continuously reviewing and updating the curricula on the basis of employers’ requirements. The training courses, which run in six cities (Hanoi, Hue, Hoi Chi Minh, Haiduong, Hoian, Danang) are three to six months long, followed by six to 12 months of job placement and follow up counselling.
As a part of their training, students learn practical skills in real-business contexts in the social enterprises created by REACH. Currently, these include Viewzz, an IT Visualization service enterprise, and Em Salon, a hairdressing and beauty enterprise. The curricula are completed by rounding students’ life skills and English language, additional aspects that help the future workers adapt to a modern job market and gain the self-confidence to succeed.
This holistic approach to education and practical training, coupled with the support of REACH’s vast network of employers, facilitate the successful job placement of the students. The programme’s past results speak for themselves: over the last 12 years, REACH trained nearly 18,000 disadvantaged youths and 87% of graduates successfully found a decent employment.
Crucially, the average income of graduates recorded at the end of REACH’s follow up period is 20% higher than the national minimum salary. This shows how REACH’s programme puts emphasis not only on helping its students find an employment, but the organisation also strives to offer its graduate quality, long term and sustainable jobs, hereby enhancing their opportunities for living a dignified life and achieving personal success.
In 2021, REACH added 58 new businesses to its business network, reaching a total of over 1,500 enterprises or economic activities that can help with the training and job placement of its trainees.
Furthermore, REACH has been an important point of reference for its alumni and students during the COVID-19 waves that hit Vietnam. The organisation provided support allowances and food to the most disadvantaged, lent computers and distributing COVID-19 test kits.