Career pathways help ease the pressure off students in crucial tests

Failing the high school entrance exam doesn't mean it's the end of the road, as the current education system offers various forms of training to meet the needs of parents and students.

A student inquiring a job counsellor at a job counselling fair organised by Tuổi Trẻ Thủ Đô newspaper on May 4. VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Tùng

HÀ NỘI Junior high students in Việt Nam are currently in a critical phase, with important entrance exams for high school and universities. This is also the time when many parents and students must make decisions about choosing a suitable learning environment.

Currently, there are nearly 1,900 vocational education institutions across Việt Nam. These institutions have adapted to prioritise training in fields that align with the demands of businesses and the labour market, providing a range of career development pathways for high school students.

Moreover, implementing early admissions and diversifying admission methods has enabled many vocational schools to move away from relying solely on high school graduation exam scores. This approach has been particularly beneficial for candidates, helping them alleviate exam pressure and expand their career options.

In preparation for his daughter's Grade 10, Phạm Quang Dũng from Phương Liệt, Hà Nội, has looked at numerous non-public schools and vocational education institutions in the area. His worries increased upon learning from the Department of Education and Training that approximately 60 per cent of the quota for public high schools in Hà Nội for the 2024 - 2025 academic year had already been allocated. This left a significant portion of students considering non-public schools, regular education centres and vocational training schools.

Following visits to various schools Dũng is inclined towards enrolling his daughter in vocational education institutions as a viable option. He sees merit in the 9+ model, where students can simultaneously study vocational and academic subjects. This model allows for a smooth transition to vocational colleges upon high school graduation.

Entering grade 10 is a significant milestone for each student. Many students who fail grade 10 may feel stuck and frustrated, but this does not mean it's the end, as the current education system offers various forms of training to meet the needs of parents and students. In addition to public high schools, students can choose from many other models. The important thing is to align with their abilities, interests and future career aspirations.

Lê Anh Tuấn, an expert in career and entrepreneurship at the Hà Nội Youth Union, said that there exists a common assumption that Grade 9 automatically leads to Grade 10, making Grade 10 entrance exams more challenging than university entrance exams. To address this, the Education, Training, Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs sectors are implementing a dual education model alongside the 9+ system, providing students with opportunities to pursue both academic and vocational subjects.

The 'Career-oriented Education and Student Streamlining Orientation in General Education from 2018 to 2025' project aims to have 25-30 per cent of high school graduates enrolled in vocational education institutions. Pursuing the 9+ model at vocational schools allows students to graduate in three years with a vocational diploma, or in four years with a college diploma before entering the workforce. This approach significantly saves time compared to the traditional method of completing high school before pursuing vocational subjects.

Phạm Vũ Quốc Bình, Deputy Director General of the General Department of Vocational Education (Ministry of Labour - Invalids and Social Affairs), highlighted the benefits of the 9+ model for students. This dual education system integrates vocational training with a regular high school programme, allowing students to graduate after three years of study and take the high school graduation exam. It enables immediate engagement with professions, skill enhancement, business interaction and work habit development. Moreover, students can access regular education programmes and pursue further studies at colleges and universities.

Determining future directions

Many schools have prioritised career counselling and streamlining since Grade 9. Ahead of Grade 10 enrollment, middle schools actively guide students to understand their abilities and weigh the pros and cons of different training models. Nguyễn Ngọc Quyết, a recruitment advisory officer at Phú Thọ Electro-Mechanical College, emphasises that at this age, students can already envision their future careers and early career advice helps in forming a general understanding and new perspectives.

Furthermore, vocational colleges and intermediate vocational schools have begun recruitment with various incentives, such as reduced tuition fees, new career fields and attractive job opportunities throughout the year. This continuous enrollment advantage provides parents and students with more options when preparing for the Grade 10 entrance exam and high school graduation.

In mid-January 2024, Hà Nội Commercial and Tourism College announced admission criteria for high school graduates and equivalent qualifications, as well as for students who have completed middle school or higher. Candidates can register online, submit applications directly, or send them by mail until December 31, 2024. The college's principal, Trịnh Thu Hà, stated that the college launched both direct and online enrollment channels immediately after Tết (Lunar New Year), attracting nearly 1,000 applications.

To meet increasing demands, some vocational schools have innovated their programmes, improved training quality, and partnered with businesses to create job opportunities for students after graduation. This strategy aims to attract more students to these schools. Đồng Trung Chính, Principal of Hà Nội Industrial Economics College, affirmed that all of the college's enrollment programs are linked to employment. The college is committed to job placements and has agreements with businesses to accept graduates and participate in the training process.

According to Bình, in Hà Nội, only about 60-62 per cent of students enter public high schools, while in Hồ Chí Minh City, it's 70 per cent. This leaves a significant number of students needing to enroll in other systems after middle school, such as regular education centres or some type of vocational education. The demand for the 9+ system, which integrates vocational programs with the regular curriculum, accounts for about 19-20 per cent. Schools are concerned about creating a conducive learning environment to improve training quality.

Ngô Thị Ngọc Lan, Director of Navigos Search recruitment company's northern branch, advised that youth must consider passion, strengths and long-term socio-economic orientation when making career decisions. Simply following guidance without considering personal interests may not lead to accurate choices. VNS

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