by Le Phuong
HO CHI MINH CITY, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Every year in early July, thousands of Vietnamese high school graduates troop to universities and colleges in Vietnam to take the college entrance exams.
While parents will spend all their resources in seeing to it that their children could proceed to college and earn a degree, students always feel a big pressure on their shoulders in meeting their parents' expectation.
Worse still, failing the entrance exams always cause negative impact on the students for a long time.
This could be one of the reasons why the number of students applying for college entrance exams lately has shown a decline.
"Taking the college entrance exams is not the only choice for my life-long career because there are many other ways that are also useful for me," 18-year-old Le Hoang, who just graduated from a high school in Hanoi, told Xinhua.
Unlike his classmates who are busy preparing for the college entrance exams, Hoang said he would rather take a short-term training course in marketing.
A native of Bat Trang ceramic making village near the capital Hanoi, Hoang said he wanted to follow the business that his family had been engaged in for the last three generations.
Ceramic items used to be crafted manually but now there are modern baking kilns and other equipment that can produce more diverse and beautiful products. Bat Trang ceramic wares are sold nationwide and also for export.
Hoang said instead of pursuing a college degree, he will now concentrate on ceramic-making, improving his marketing skills and expanding his family's business.
Le Thung, Hoang's father, who is a skilled ceramic artisan and owns a ceramic workshop in Bat Trang village, told Xinhua that his eldest daughter graduated from the National University of Economics five years ago, but she is now working at his ceramic factory which is located right in their village.
"My daughter got married and has a stable income now, with a monthly average salary of 5 million VND (250 U.S. dollars), compared to roughly 3 million VND (150 U.S. dollars) of a new graduate with a college degree," Thung said.
Le Anh, an 18-year-old high school graduate from northern Vinh Phuc province, also said that instead of taking the college entrance test, he has decided to attend a training course on electric welding at the province's vocational training center.
Anh said it will take him only six months to learn welding and another two months on probation and then he can work full time in an industrial park in his hometown or even go abroad to work under the province's labor export program.
"My parents are farmers, and they want me to take a bachelor's degree in agriculture. But four years in college will cost them a big sum, and we cannot afford to pay for that," Anh said, adding that he wants to work as soon as possible so as to support his parents and younger sister, who is now at Grade 10.
Statistics from the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) show that there are over 1.4 million application forms for college entrance exams in 2014, about 300,000 forms fewer than last year.
Another survey from the ministry showed that up to 60 percent of those with bachelor's degree could not find employment at least five months after their graduation or are working in jobs unrelated to their college degrees.
Currently, Vietnam has over 420 universities (with four years training) and colleges (three years training), which are public, private, or joint ventures with foreign partners. In recent years, the yearly enrollment rate has increased by about 10 percent.
Statistics show that there had been an increasing number of unemployed college graduates in Vietnam, which shows a wide gap between the number of graduates and the actual manpower requirements of Vietnamese business establishments.
Statistics from the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) show that for the first three months of 2014, the rate of unemployed college and university graduates, aged between 20 and 24, has increased by 20.75 percent year on year.
Currently, a total of more than 72,000 Vietnamese with bachelor and master degrees nationwide are under the "unemployment" status, which is 1.7 times more than the figure recorded in late 2012.
Dao Ngoc De, an experienced lecturer at a famous university in Hanoi, told Xinhua that people, especially the parents, should adopt a new attitude toward their children's education.
"With my over 30 years of experience in teaching at college, I think that learning at university/college is not the sole path for students to follow in building a solid foundation for their future career," De said.
According to Hoang Ngoc Vinh, head of the Vocational Training Department under the Ministry of Education and Training, there are many opportunities for high school graduates to further their study, including joining technical secondary schools or vocational training centers to learn an occupation that is in demand.