Global Reach: Grantee Partners

REACH Institute

Context:

Already in the past (in 2019, the rate of youth unemployment was 6.94%, ILO), and now exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnamese young people (aged 15-24) face significant unemployment issues: in December 2020, their unemployment rate stood at 7.05%, which was 4.2 times higher than amongst people aged 25 and older, accounting for 81% of the total unemployed population nationwide. Of those who have employment, the quality of their jobs has always been a considerable issue. According to the Vietnamese General Statistics Office (GSO). In 2017, Vietnam had more than 18 million people working in informal jobs – which are characterised as unsafe and unstable, with low-income and long working hours. Young people and young adults aged 15-29 were the second major group affected. Vietnam has become one of the Asia-pacific countries with very high rates of informal work (ILO Vietnam). Despite the high rates of unemployment and informal employment amongst young people, there is still a shortage of skilled workers in the market. At the end of December 2020, the rate of trained labour only accounted for 24.1% of total labour population (GSO). The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly aggravated the situation. By December 2020, 32.1 million people older than 15 years were affected by the pandemic, including having lost their jobs, working reduced hours and earning less income. Vulnerable populations including those with low incomes, people with disabilities and those who are not trained and working in simple jobs, have been the most affected (GSO, 2020). The Vietnamese government has therefore put ‘improving the country’s human resource quality’ as one of its top priorities in its national development strategies. This includes a number of policies and incentives promoting vocational training amongst youth. However, it has achieved very little success to date. Even though, government funded public vocational schools offer youth training at low tuition rates, the training programmemes are not market-driven enough. As a result, students are not equipped with appropriate skills for the labour market and struggle with finding and keeping a decent job. While private vocational training schools tend to be more market driven, youth who come from marginalized backgrounds are unable to afford their high tuition rates. Realizing the skill mismatch in the labour market as well as the high youth unemployment, REACH has not only developed a programmeme in line with the national strategies but is also providing a holistic solution for marginalized youth. The training includes two main components: a vocational training programme coupled with life and job readiness skills training and a job placement service, essential to set up youth for a sustainable career pathway.

Organisation:

REACH is a Vietnamese non-profit organisation specialized in providing vocational training, career advice and job placement services for Vietnam’s most marginalized young people (15-30 years old). REACH started in 2004 in Hanoi as the Livelihood Advancement Business School (LABS), a project of Plan International in Vietnam. In 2008, Plan supported LABS to become independent as REACH. Since 2004, REACH has opened centres in other regions and operates currently in Hanoi, Hai Duong, Hue, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City. Their training centre in Hoi An had to be closed recently (2021) due to COVID-19 and the linked significant downturn of the hospitality sector as a result of the loss of international tourism. Instead, REACH explores now opportunities to strengthen existing and open new training courses in the IT sector in its other 5 centres – based on market scans the team conducts regularly to meet labor market needs. To date, REACH offers ten 2, 3 or 6 months-long and intensive trainings, including life and job readiness skills for young people at the margins, and supports them to find a job and settle into it. The courses are: IT (Graphic Design, 3D Modelling, Web Coding), Hospitality (5 Stars Hospitality, Cooking, Food & Beverage, Housekeeping), Beauty Service (Hairdressing) and Online Marketing (a new course to be funded under our grant). In addition, a Step Up course is tailored to the needs of young people with visual and hearing impairment. The course offers life and/or vocational skills training. REACH operates with two arms: 1. REACH non-profit arm offers the vocational training courses (see above). 2. REACH Social Enterprises currently consists of Viewzz, an IT visualization service enterprise, and Em Salon, a hairdressing and beauty enterprise, equipping young people with practical skills in real-business contexts.

Current Grant:

EMpower’s 5th grant to REACH, at the same time our first multiyear grant to them, will enable the organisation to run its vocational training programme coupled with a successful life and job readiness skills as well as job placement package for 1,532 young people 15 to 24 years old (50% female and 50% male) who can enroll in 10 vocational courses responding to the labor market across 5 centres in Vietnam (additionally will be trained 228 young people aged 25 to 30 years old as indirect project participants; included in the overall 1,760 direct and indirect project participants 16 to 30 years old are 200 visually and hearing impaired young persons aged 16 to 30 years who will join the specific Step Up course for them over the two years of the grant).

Additionally, REACH sets ambitious objectives to further improve its impact on young people’s lives while reacting to prior learning and challenges, also linked to but not limited to the COVID-19 pandemic: Activity 1: Expanding IT courses combined with increased on-the-job training as employment rates in IT remained high despite COVID-19. Activity 2: Piloting and testing better recruitment strategies to attract more young women for the IT courses as the COVID-19 crisis has affected more heavily sectors where women are usually employed (e.g. hospitality). Activity 3: Developing an online training package as response to COVID-19 related challenges. Activity 4: Upgrading the life skills curriculum, also in adding skills more than ever relevant in very uncertain (after-)COVID-19 times. Activity 5: Promoting inclusive practices to address employment needs of young people living with disabilities. Activity 6: Conducting an internal review as much is unknown with regards to COVID-19 and its further repercussions on the economic/job market situation in Vietnam to be best prepared to potentially adapt elements of programmeming in year 2 of the grant and revise certain expected results as needed.

REACH from EMpower on Vimeo.

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