People with Disability Make a Change through Vocational Education


Mr. Nguyen Van Cu, Deputy Director of the Centre for Disability Research and Capacity Development (DRD) and his colleagues have been implementing various initiatives to promote the engagement of people with disability (PWD) in society. These initiatives include providing PWDs with access to quality vocational education and training to help them integrate into and contribute to society as equally as other citizens.

Nguyen Van Cu with his colleagues at DRD
iues at DRD

Take a challenge to make a change

Could you please share something about yourself, and how you have gone through life challenges?

I have suffered from limb atrophy since childhood, which causes mobility difficulties in my daily life. I was probably the only one with such a disability in the village where I lived, which made me “famous” and children followed me everywhere I went. I used to feel uncomfortable for not being as normal as everybody else.

After graduating from university in 2002, I was employed at an enterprise. Then, by chance, I met Ms. Vo Hoang Yen, who is currently the Director of DRD. She invited me to join her team, to distribute wheelchairs to PWDs. Seeing many others in more difficult conditions than mine, a desire arose in my mind: I must encourage and support as many PWDs as possible to overcome their adversity and be determined in pursuing their ambitions and contributing to society. So, I joined DRD in December 2005 and I have been working here ever since.

Nguyen Van Cu presenting at an inclusive vocation education for people with disability
Nguyen Van Cu presenting at an inclusive vocation education for people with disability.

In late 2018, I had the opportunity to attend an Australia Awards training course in Australia on strategic workforce planning in the logistics industry. This training has greatly changed my mind set and improved my capacity for strategy development and multi-stakeholder engagement in promoting inclusive vocational education, to help PWDs build their confidence and ability to integrate into society.

How did the Australia Awards training course help in your work?

The study program at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) provided me with a different view about technical and vocational education and training (TVET) for PWDs. I realised that the first thing to do is to make community and businesses aware that PWDs can make substantial contributions when they are provided with enabling learning and working conditions.

PWDs often face financial difficulties, so going to a vocational school may be an appropriate choice for them, particularly because the study time is shorter and employablity of vocational graduates may be higher than that of university graduates. PWDs can access vocational education immediately after completion of 9th grade with a Government subsidy. Securing a stable job and income makes a person with disability more confident and less dependent on their families.

Achieving Your Goals

As an Australian alumnus, how have you applied the knowledge you learned in integrating VET into DRD's strategy?

I think there are two important things to do: Firstly, skilling up PWDs – according to a recent survey, nearly 93% of PWDs in Vietnam have not received formal vocational training. DRD work with multiple stakeholders, TVET institutions, and the General Directorate of Vocational Education and Training to provide vocational training services for PWDs.

Secondly, mobilising scholarships for PWDs. DRD's strategy is to link up with vocational training institutions and advocate for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to provide scholarships for PWDs to pursue quality vocational education. DRD is partnering with a provider of cloud computing training services, and has mobilised computers and 500 scholarships for students with disability to study graphic design, website design, and digital marketing.

Along with vocational training, DRD also focuses on equipping PWDs with soft skills by collaborating with HR experts who voluntarily train basic skills for students with disability, providing them with both professional knowledge and soft skills to increase job opportunities.

DRD also has a job placement center for PWDs, which is supported by Australian alumni. We inspect facilities at enterprises to see if they are suitable for PWDs before linking them with these employers. Our consulting services to TVET institutions range from enrollment to designing training programs for PWDs. We advise businesses on how to recruit and accommodate favorable conditions for PWDs, and how to make their business strategy more inclusive.

How many students has DRD been connected with businesses, and in what locations?

To date, DRD has supported more than 2,000 PWDs nationwide, regardless of locality. However, the jobs for PWDs are created mainly in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai, and Binh Duong which are economic hubs with many industrial zones. There is a trend of workers with disability moving from the North to the South in search for work.

Employers of PWDs often offer support programs such as workplace accommodation or finding affordable and nearby motels for their convenient movement. The minimum salary is about VND 5 million/month but high-skilled PWD’s may earn VND 7-8 million/month.

Need to change perception

Are there any difficulties in industry engagement?

For foreign businesses operating in Vietnam, it is obvious that supporting the PWDs is part of their CSR. Thus, we have no difficulty approaching these businesses. For Vietnamese small and medium businesses, it is more difficult to approach and raise awareness about supporting PWDs. However, it is usually just a matter of awareness, as recruiting PWDs does not have much impact on business finances because recruiting PWDs as wage workers is not charity work.

Besides the readiness of TVET institutions to accept PWDs and offer facilities and curricula suitable for this group of students, the accessibility to VET education information by PWDs and their families seems to be 'clogged'. Many families still prefer universities to TVET. To address this issue, DRD has been running campaigns targeting PWDs and their families to raise their awareness about TVET and career opportunities for PWDs.


DRD partners with local PWD organisations to run awareness raising campaigns about learning opportunities, available resources and employment opportunities for PWDs. We also collaborate with Aus4Skills to enhance the capacity of vocational educators to support students with disability, to make our approach more comprehensive. DRD uses communication channels such as radio and newspapers to reach out to PWDs with TVET and employment information. Particularly, DRD has a network of more than 270 businesses ready to recruit PWDs, which is a good sign for this community.


Thank you for the interview!


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