A country will shine out with creative minds, being prosperous if there are persistent merchants, and thrive by the hands of skilled farmers and craftsmen.
My father was a seventh-degree welder. He studied at the vocational school and worked as a worker in the province's largest canoe-building factory at a time when the craftsmen were highly regarded.
From a very young age, I had heard the conversations between him and his friends about what defines the class of a craftsman, and what makes the beauty of a weld.
To evaluate a standard weld, people not simply look at the appearance but must use an ultrasound to check. The standard weld will have no air bubbles, no cracks or holes inside.
With barges floating on the Thuong River, downstream to Hai Duong province, Tien Lang (Hai Phong province), Thai Binh province or upstream to Lang Son province, beautiful welds also assure the safety, durability over time of those ships.
I learned somewhere a proverb that “there is always a master in every trade”. To reach the elite level, the level of “a master”, an individual needs talent, passion and great effort. They deserve to be honored.
But society has changed. No one ever mentioned the beauty of occupations, no one cherished the quintessence of the hand of labor. People like my father only cherished their own sparkles.
Also for many years, there have been fewer candidates choosing vocational schools. Approximately a million candidates for high school graduation exam each year, most of them only register for university admission, although the statistics of the Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs sector also state the situation of “redundancy of teachers and shortage of workers”.
In developed countries, in average, for every labor with higher-education level, there are 3 labors with collegiate levels and 10 labors with technical-educated levels. In Vietnam, the rate is 1 university graduate, 1 college graduate and 1 technical school graduate. According to the General Directorate of Vocational Education and Training, the rate of trained workers in Vietnam is only about 21.9% in 2018. The rate of workers with high technical expertise is even less.
Nevertheless, Vietnam's current higher education institutions have only equipped students with a diploma, with not much knowledge or research aspirations. Many university graduates who cannot find jobs, must hide their degrees to apply to plants, factories where only real workers are demanded. But their skill levels are not better than those who have just graduated from high schools and go straight into the job market.
We have been paying the price for the shortage of skilled labors. Many foreign enterprises entering Vietnam cannot recruit skilled workers. Labor productivity of Vietnam only reaches level 4/10 in comparison with the average figure of the world. This is also a weak point in the competitive advantage of Vietnam when we are trying to attract capital flow investment compared to other countries. This is, indeed, one of the fatal weaknesses of Vietnam on the path of development.
The school selection literally reflects the demand of the labor market. But somehow that rule is no longer true in Vietnam.
There are many abnormal things that have become normal.
Including the concentration on certifications, focusing on the reputation of professors and doctors, even though the society and the economy really need skilled workers and trained labors who have been through practical training.
That abnormal things need to be removed and changed soon because it is an obstacle to the transformation and development of the whole country.
We hope a day the value of labor will be respected. Many people will definitely recognize the beauty of welds.
(A country will shine out with creative minds, being prosperous if there are persistent merchants, and thrive by the hands of skilled farmers and craftsmen.)