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Unemployed Vietnamese brave scorching heat to find jobs

Friday, July 24, 2020, 16:26 GMT+7
Unemployed Vietnamese brave scorching heat to find jobs
Job applicants wait for their turn to submit their application at an industrial zone in Bac Thang Long in Dong Anh District, Hanoi. Photo: Tam Le / Tuoi Tre

Finding employment in Vietnam’s major cities is increasingly becoming a major issue for those affected by the current economic slowdown caused by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

As the weather continues to heat up, so does the competition to secure one of the dwindling job opportunities scattered throughout the country.

Pretending to be an interested job applicant, a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporter hit the streets to find out what exactly the job seekers in Hanoi, the nation’s capital, are dealing with.

Each evening she browsed job postings on the Internet and each morning she made calls to potential employers before rushing over to on-site face-to-face interviews.

Here is what she went through on her job hunt.

Vague information

One of the most confusing aspects of many job advertisements, the reporter said, is the lack of information.

Oftentimes, would-be employers leave out job requirements and business names and addresses. Applicants are merely given access to a general job description and minimal information related to salary and insurance.

One of the first companies that interviewed the reporter was a French bakery on Au Co Street in Tay Ho District, Hanoi.

The reporter felt she matched the characteristics required for the job and believed the pay was fair, so she decided to head over and do her best to secure the position.

When she arrived, however, she was told, “We have just hired enough people. Please leave us your phone number. We’ll call you when we need you.”

She then moved on to interview for an opening at a business on Nguyen Trai Street in Thanh Xuan District, where the employer was seeking out college graduates and offering a basic salary of VND10.7 million (US$461) per month.

The job advertisement also noted that some salespeople working for the company were pulling in more than VND20 million ($865) a month in commission.

It was not until the reporter arrived for the interview that she was told it was with an insurance company. The hiring manager explained that this was to spare applicants the hassle of sifting through large amounts of information.

Following the social distancing policies enacted in Vietnam in April to control the spread of COVID-19, the job hunt has become quite difficult, even for those with top qualifications.

Nguyen Thanh Hung, a 31-year-old man from Phuc Yen City, the capital of northern Vinh Phuc Province, graduated with distinction from a construction university.

He also boasts a solid grasp of both English and Japanese, as well as experience in construction, interior furnishings, and Japanese interpreting and pedagogy.  

Hung lost his job as the manager of a furniture company when the virus hit and has had serious trouble recovering.

“I became disoriented and heavily stressed. I’ve had sleepless nights,” he said. “I’ve been through financial losses and bankruptcy before, but it has never been this bad.”

He has since sought out employment with various companies and applied for teaching gigs at Japanese language centers, but was told there are no openings. 

To make ends meet, he has retaken his old job in construction, where his days start at 4:00 am in order to avoid working under the hot summer sun.

Manual labor not easy option

At an industrial zone in Bac Thang Long in Dong Anh District, Hanoi, home to factories belonging to major international corporations such as Canon, Samsung and Panasonic, job vacancies used to be posted daily on the zone’s notice board.

“Right now the board is almost empty,” said several of the factory workers. “Normally, the board is filled with jobs this time of the year.”

Lu Van Long, a 29-year-old father of a new born child, lost his job due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and has since found it extremely difficult to care for his family. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

Lu Van Long, a 29-year-old father of a new born child, lost his job due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and has since found it extremely difficult to care for his family. Photo: Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre

Bui Thi Minh, a female factory worker at the industrial zone, told your correspondent that the number of people looking for work in the area seems to be growing rapidly, adding that she has worked for 20 days and had to wait two months before she finally landed a job.

She currently shares a room with three other women, one of whom is busy preparing for an interview while the other two are still searching for job opportunities.  

One of Minh’s roommates, Dao Thi Chi, 26, rode her motorbike over a 180-kilometer journey from Tuyen Quang Province to Hanoi to interview for a job at the industrial zone, but her application was rejected due to health issues.

Thuong, another of Minh’s roommates, was told she simply was not tall enough to work on the factory’s assembly line.

In the two months since she left her hometown in the northern province of Yen Bai, 220 kilometers northwest of Hanoi, she has spent over VND6 million ($258) with almost nothing to show for it.

Job seekers in Ho Chi Minh City do not seem to have it any easier.

Lu Van Long, 29 years old, lost his job following his company’s downsizing, making it extremely difficult for him to take care of his postnatal wife and newborn baby.

He had been working as a driver for a firm in Binh Chanh District, located on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, bringing in VND5-6 million ($215-258) a month.

That salary, alongside his wife’s, was enough to keep the family afloat.  

With his wife on maternity leave and his job being made redundant, their income was reduced to nothing for a short time before Long found a job at a public utility company in the city, earning VND3 million ($130) a month. 

“I work so hard, but I’m not earning enough,” he said.

“Our rent is VND1.4 million [$60], and we spend another VND1 million [$43] buying formula milk and diapers for the baby. Our other expenses come out to about VND1 million per month.”

Long says the only way to survive is to find a job that pays at least VND200,000 ($8.60) daily.

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Tien Bui - Tam Le - Ngoc Hien / Tuoi Tre News

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