Most of the children who walk through the doors of Dragon House may have once scoffed at the idea of a career. All come from disadvantaged backgrounds, where they must take any work to help their families. They would be lucky to finish secondary school, let alone attend further study or training.
When Blue Dragon started as a small organisation back in 2003, offering career preparation wasn’t a high priority. Of course, staff were always available to offer informal advice, but we found that due to a lack of ownership and knowledge of the world of work among the kids there was a low rate of job retention.
At Blue Dragon, we believe it’s important to change and adapt to the needs of those we work with. As the organisation and the kids have grown, we have seen the need to change our approach. So, in the past 5 years, career preparation has become a more formalised offering, first in Hanoi, and now extended into other provinces where Blue Dragon serves children in need (Hue, Dien Bien and Bac Ninh provinces).
And the uptake has been huge! In Hue province (central Vietnam) alone, we saw a 60% increase in children receiving career information (in the 2017 – 2018 period). In Dien Bien province (Northwest Vietnam) there was a 196% increase within the last year.
Involving the kids in their own life planning has meant much higher success in job retention and career success. The young people are more aware of their options, have support to identify their own goals, and are assisted to create a step-by-step plan of how to achieve them.
We see this career preparation as a vital step for decreasing the risk of human trafficking in targeted regions. Having access to career information and training opportunities to ensure a successful transition from school to work is one of the most effective ways to keep children safe from exploitation and ensure their long term future.