What are the advantages of learning a practical skill rather than training for an office job?
Today’s job market is centred on providing labour for factories, which are experiencing a severe worker shortage. But a thesis written by a graduate student at Lao-Top College under the Ministry of Education and Sports indicates that most people prefer to study subjects that will prepare them for an office job. Vientiane Times visited Papasak College to ask students enrolled in vocational programmes why they chose this field in contrast to their office-oriented peers.

Mr Souksakhone Xayyavong: I am doing a course in embroidery as I have faith in my talents, even though I’m a man and am not a ladyboy. I know it’s unusual but it’s what I like doing. My mother does needlework and has a sewing shop in Chanthabouly district. For as long as I can remember I have helped her and have been encouraged by her. I plan to open my own shop next door. I may make my own clothes brand. I am spending three years on this course but when I’ve finished I will have skills that will enable me to earn an income for the rest of my life. But the conditions here are quite difficult because there are almost 100 students in one classroom. Everyone is determined to persevere, however. 


Ms Bouanum Chanthaphouvong: I love embroidery but I would like to be a soldier as well as opening my own sewing shop at my house when I get married. I could sew in the evenings as a part time job, which would allow me to earn more money for my family. There is a demand for people with practical skills, especially in factories, so I don’t think I will be unemployed when I complete my education. I call on the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to encourage more people to learn practical skills so that more young people have job security, which would help to reduce the unemployment rate. 

Ms Youa Bounheuang: I chose to study needlework because I want to be a designer. We don’t have many experienced designers in Laos, but many people want to buy clothes from different countries. If I can be a good designer I might be able to make a new modern brand for Lao people then we wouldn’t need to import so many clothes. If we can cut imports, we might be able to boost exports. I call on investors and the government to build more classrooms. At present, first, second and third year students all have to share one room which is uncomfortable. And there aren’t enough sewing machines for the almost 100 students here so we have to wait our turn to use one.

Mr Pao Mahathilath:  I’m learning a practical skill as advised by my family, and it’s also my favourite occupation. For me it’s better than doing office-oriented subjects because my brother has his own sewing shop. This way, I won’t have to compete with the thousands of other people who apply to work at a government office. I can be my own boss and be sure of earning money. My hometown in Pakxan district, Borikhamxay province, doesn’t have many people who can sew because most choose to study office-oriented subjects in the hope that they can find work in a government office, but it’s really difficult. I was born into a poor family. I watched my parents working hard on their farm. They didn’t have enough money to pay for my education so I decided to study something simple that wouldn’t take too long so that I can carve out a career for myself and help my family. After my brother opened his own sewing shop he helped me to finance my education.

Ms Alisa Xaylavong, a student at the Institute of Economics and Finance:  My mother wanted me to study accounting or finance because every office needs staff for this kind of work, so I think it may be easy to find a job. I like office work. Although many people take these subjects, there is still a demand for people with these skills. I don’t think success depends on the subject you study - it depends on your approach. It’s hard work and perseverance that will determine who you become and what you do for a living.

ByPhouthong Sivongsa
(Latest Update November 29, 2018)

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