The topic of work in Unit 5 Work & Leisure explored in the lessons over the week generated quite a lot of discussion among students and several interesting points were raised. Quite a few stories of students’ experiences with job interviews were shared and some specific opinions related to work were offered as well, all of which came out of the lesson material.
For example, in Vietnam, the estimated minimum wage was suggested to be around the equivalent to 100 USD a month for an office worker although the younger set of university students were hopeful that with English and solid qualifications, they might start out at nearer to 500 USD a month.
One of the students, a practising teacher, was quite open with her opinions. She informed us that a university professor with a PhD (government university) could expect to earn a salary of the equivalent of around 150 USD per month. Surprised? Yes, well it doesn’t add up to much, even in developing Vietnam.
A policeman could also expect to earn about 100 USD a month, plus ‘extras’. However, a bank employee or someone in the field of marketing, might earn as much as 250 to 500 USD a month, while at the top of the big money jobs were doctors (5,000 USD per month – not sure if I got that right!). Interestingly, in Japan and Korea, a journalist could expect to make a salary on par with the economically stronger European countries and is considered a prestigious job. In Vietnam, apparently, it pays little and is not considered a job to be admired.
There appears to be a great disparity between government employees and the private sector in terms of earning possibilities, job security, privilege and prestige. The idea that these low wages lead to corruption was brought out by the students themselves and all agreed that this was a major challenge for the country and others in similar economic situations.
Having said all that, there is a great deal of new wealth here, and it can be seen in the number of new SUVs (sport utility vehicles) on the road, Even the occasional Rolls Royce, Jaguar or Ferrari can be spotted on the narrow, congested streets, running motorbikes off the road and honking up a storm as they go. But the topic of driving in Hanoi will have to wait for another day …
On that note, I’ll close this posting and take a break from the exhausting week of work behind me, elevate my damaged leg, and try to recuperate from the accident I had just last night on the motorbike. Gave the local doctors quite a bit of work today!
Hope to see you next week!
Signing off from Hanoi,