Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth

by REACH Vetted since 2012 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Site Visit Verified
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth
Life-changing jobs for deprived Vietnamese youth

Throughout my life, my family has been very unstable, and many things have happened to make life difficult for me. I used to think I couldn’t stand on my own two feet. I grew up in a rural area named PhuXuyen – Hanoi, where my parents were very poor farmers. Entering adulthood, I was so confused and had no idea what the future might hold for me. I did not know what I wanted to do with my life, so, following my friends, I moved to the South looking for job opportunities.

There I worked in industrial zone for a electric wire production company with very low income. It was not a secure job. I know that, like many other women, I will be trashed out of the company when I get 35 years old. I often fell in to anxiety and worried about the fact that without any technical skill, nor saving money, what could I do in the future.

But the difficulties were over when I luckily found the right path for myself thanks to REACH. I got the information through the Viet Vo – Vu Vo Phuong Nam Volunteer group, and was interested in REACH’s courses. I decided to study the YCI course, specializing in cooking. This was a great professional training program. It taught me hard work, meticulousness, patience, and to be humbler, and I began to understand the importance of a foreign language in life and work. REACH also equipped me with great life skills such as interpersonal skills and team work.

Here, I met other young people with similar circumstances. Perhaps that was the reason why we could understand each other and are very close. We participate in volunteer activities helping children in the orphanage. I gradually came to realize that I am not the only one who has difficulties, I have been much luckier than many people out there.

After 6 months of study, I graduated and worked at Intercontinental Asian Saigon Hotel – ChiDory Restaurant with an income of 7.8 million per month. My job is chef of the hotel-that high-scale restaurant; I propose the daily menu, and coordinate to prepare dishes. I have been trained in kitchen management skills.

I am constantly studying for advanced skills in cooking, and work hard at foreign languages. I have started to save money for a “kitchen management” course in France, which I will take part in for the next two years. This is a big dream for me, but one I know I can achieve.

Now, cooking is my passion. I cannot believe I'm the chef of a 5-star hotel, a job that I'm so proud of. If I did not find REACH, maybe I would not have found myself, and I would not have found something I love from my heart, cooking food.

Vu Ngan Thu, 28 years old

YCI graduate

Batch: 39 – Ho Chi Minh city


The REACH Alumni club was established in 2007 in response to demands from REACH graduates. The clubs enable graduates to stay in contact with one another and support their on-going efforts at self-improvement and education. Alumni members also support REACH's programs and its growth. Clubs organise social and community service activities for members. They also provide an important link between REACH graduates and REACH. Alumni clubs in Hanoi, Da Nang, Hue and Hai Duong provinces support the work of REACH by playing an active role in REACH’s student recruitment processes, curriculum development and guest lecturing. The spirit of REACH lives on in our graduates through their involvement in the Alumni clubs. The ALUMNI motto sums it up: “Alumni Club – join hands together for future success”. 


(Written by Ha Phuong Thao – Alumnus, Customer Relationship, Sales & Marketing class)

This was the 6th time I’d been back to our centre as a guest lecturer. Without the anxiety for the first time, I felt completely Comfortable before many friendly and admiring eyes. The sweetness of my memories and the love I felt during my time at REACH abruptly flooded my mind. I remembered occasions when graduates came to share with us their experiences, their knowledge of products and many other valuable pieces of advice and information Then, I was whispering to myself that I would contribute back my own part to help other youth. I told the students about electronic products and customer groups. Since my very first days at work, I was selected for this sector- the major sector in every supermarket. The modern and challenging working environment is really attractive and forces people to be more active. A number of times, I had to skip Alumni Club meetings because I couldn’t arrange the time. After 6 months of intense effort, I was promoted to Audio team leader. The long 6 months were worth investing,
as I was selected in such a competitive environment. The satisfaction of that achievement spurred me on to develop more. It’s the premise for me to fulfil my dreams. Coming back to assist the centre is my desire. It’s similar for other graduates. Coming back means seeing facilitators and the image of ourselves before in class, realizing that we have grown up and that life is so valuable.
After having been Audio team leader for more than 1 year, I was promoted to Chief Manager of the electronic products sector. It is huge but it matches my ambition. I’m in the recruitment committee now which means I have more opportunities to support REACH. I know, it’s rare to be selected as the chief manager of the electronics sector with only a high school qualification in hand and I appreciate precious things that REACH has done for me. I’ve built a good foundation, I will study more to fulfil my dreams – Thao said.


"2017 was a year of milestones for REACH!

REACH's mission is to address the ongoing needs of the most disadvantaged youth across Vietnam and empower them. This has inspired each and every of REACH’s staff with a burning desire to bring hopes to the beneficiaries. Our work in 2017 highlighted our ongoing development which meant more lives have been touched and more life-changing opportunities have been provided." - Tam P.T, REACH's Executive Director

Our 2017 courses

REACH's core program, LABS, was initiated by Plan International in 2004. It aims to address the high rates of unemployment among Vietnamese youth through targeted training that aligns with industry skill deficits. It delivers a program of standardized vocational training curriculum followed by job placement and support through six months monitoring and mentoring. REACH conducts three LABS intakes each year, with courses running between 15 and 24 weeks and spanning nine training areas. Our goals are to skill students and equip them for sustainable employment. We target for an 80% outcome of graduates measured at six months after graduation.

In 2017 - our 13th year of LABS operating, 1190 disadvantaged youth accessed to our training programs.  Our broadly-based curriculum embraces not only technical contents but also fundamental life-skills set, Green skills, and English language education. These equip our graduates well for sustainable employment. Overall, 87% of our graduates earned a job after completing courses provided by REACH. Their sustainable employment can also be attributed to our 6-month job monitoring and mentor. More importantly, 81% of our graduates reported an improvement in their life quality which reflects our goals to social impact as we empower youth and bring positive changes to their lives.

Sales and Marketing

Sales and Marketing was one of REACH's first courses. It continues to be one of the most successful courses.  This year, its graduation rates reached a high of 95%. Our students undertook their own business projects as part of their training instead of taking internships. Some of these projects assisted to promote sales at our Social Enterprises, KOI Bento and EM Hair Salon.  Through these projects, our Sales and Marketing trainees obtained invaluable business experience which gave them insights into their future jobs. 


Of the 46 trainees who signed themselves up to our 3 hairdressing batches in 2017, 43 accomplished 14 weeks of salon-standard training.  This training not only equipped the youth with professional skills of hairdressing but also provided them with other essential customer services, communication and salon management skills. After 6 months after graduation, 85% of our hairdressing graduates were still in employment.


This year, 65 out of 67 enrolled trainees have graduated from cooking courses provided by REACH.  This high rate (97%) can be attributed to our training priorities in Japanese and Asian cuisine. Our potential Japanese chefs were also engaged in real tasks to sharpen their skills during training by engaging with our social enterprise, Koi Bento. This included assisting our chefs to prepare a lunch buffet for over 100 people at a conference and making Bento boxes for more than 150 people including HSBC and REACH students at a charity event, 'Love Filled Spring'.


121 housekeeping trainees have graduated from REACH’s training courses in Da Nang and Hue in the past year. Significantly nine new partnering resorts/hotels offering 4-5 star services have committed to join our partner network. This will provide more employment opportunities for our graduates of coming batches.  2017 also brought us wonderful news that many of our alumni have been promoted to supervisor/manager positions in prestigious hotels and resorts.

3D Modelling

2017 marked a milestone for our 3D Modelling training. Launched in late 2016, one batch completed the six-month course. Of the 15 trainees who took up the course, 13 (87%) completed what is considered to be a difficult and skill-demanding area.  Positive employment rates of 3D Modelling graduates at 92.3% give us confidence in a bright prospect for this course into the future. It also serves to inspire us to take up the challenge of training students in areas of new technology. These are the jobs of the future for the youth in Vietnam.

Graphic Design

In total, 201 disadvantaged youth were admitted to nine Graphic Design training batches making Graphic Design the second most popular course in REACH’s LABS program throughout 2017. Upon completion of the course, our trainees were able to master professional software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator to design various media and advertisement products.Figures indicated 85.8% of our graduates got employed after finishing their Graphic Design courses at REACH.

Food & Beverage

Remaining the most popular course in our LABS program, Food & Beverage took 516 disadvantaged youth in its training programs this past year.  485 (94%) trainees have completed the training. In addition to professional and Vietnam Tourism Occupational Standard (VTOS) training, tens of hours of English language education were also provided to our trainees to increase their competitiveness in the industry.


Introduced in mid-2017, Coding is one of the most intensive courses offered by REACH.  Its comprehensively developed curriculum engaged in-depth consultation with industry experts in accredited IT companies such as Br24 and ArrowHiTech. 16 trainees successfully completed REACH’s first Coding course and were awarded certificates in early February 2018. This new technology course and its success is the testament to REACH's mission in providing training that addresses the skill shortages in Vietnam's growing economy.

Beauty, Spa & Make-up

This course was exclusively delivered to trainees in REACH's Hue center. In 2017, there were 3 batches conducted. These courses totaled 48 trainees with 43 graduates (89.5%). The majority were employed by professional spa and hotels after completing their training.  Of particular significance is that the course has established partnerships with 11 new spas in Hue and Da Nang city. This is evidence that this sector of the tourism industry is growing fast and is an encouraging sign for future employment opportunity for our students.

YCI Program

This year, YCI program in Hanoi has attracted the participation of xx disadvantaged youth, delivered xxx hours of training across many different skill areas in the 5-star hospitality sector. This training was delivered and supervised by skilled professionals from the hotels where the students were placed. In addition to this training REACH delivered essential life skills training and mentoring.

Leveraged on its previous accomplishments in Hanoi, REACH's YCI Program has been successfully extended to Southern Vietnam. The first YCI course in Ho Chi Minh City was conducted with the engagement of four our new partnering high-end hotels: Sheraton Sai Gon, Le Meridien, InterContinental Sai Gon and Renaissance. This collaboration has enabled us to provide quality and high standard training to 53 YCI trainees who successfully graduated in February 2018. 

Social Enterprise

The development of Social Enterprises has been identified as a major strategic objective for REACH. Its goals are to enhance student learning outcomes through a business model that also delivers an income stream. This income will create financial sustainability for REACH in the future.  The social enterprise initiatives in the past year were Koi Bento, a Japanese bento box delivery service, and EM Hair salon.

While generating revenue to reinvest in our training program and sustaining our financial capacity, these businesses provide invaluable opportunities for our trainees to deliver on real customer-related tasks. Over the past year, Koi Bento and EM Hair Salon model have engaged 238 REACH trainees attending Cooking, Hairdressing, Sales and Marketing and Graphic Design courses.  In addition, they have achieved significant business outcomes for start-up enterprises.

Koi Bento

KOI Bento is a Social Enterprise initiative in which income generated helps disadvantaged young people training at REACH. The business provides a healthy Japanese lunch meal delivered to customers at their workplace. The preparation of KOI Bento is done by REACH’s Japanese trained chefs assisted by their trainees. The trainers in the cooking program were trained in the skills of Japanese cuisine by master chefs in Japan. The enterprise is rapidly expanding its customer base to include Vietnamese businesses, foreign corporations, and Hanoi based NGOs.

EM Hair Salon

Inspired by Em – a determined and brave girl who attended REACH’s hairdressing training course with hope to begin a new life after suffering domestic violence, EM Hair Salon was opened with contributions from volunteers, REACH trainees and talented alumni. The salon provides high-quality hairdressing and styling services with experienced staff team while delivering in-salon training to REACH students. The business is performing well as a start-up enterprise and there are ambitious plans to expand it to other venues in Hanoi.

Student story - Thuy, a trainee of Cooking batch 37, REACH Hanoi

Thuy is a girl originating from a family in Thanh Hoa province. Her family is one of the poorest households in the commune with the income of less than US$45 per month. Her parents are both farmers. However, the income generated from farm work is so low that they have to find different seasonal work to make ends meet. Her father had a hearing difficulty so finding a job was very challenging. During harvesting season, he was hired to help other households' farming work with the pay of 2.5 dollars per day,5-7 days a week. Thuy's mother sold home-grown vegetables at a local market and collected trash that can be recycled to sell. 

After finishing high school, Thuy wanted to pursue university but she knew it would be just a dream. She enrolled in a 3-year vocational training program at a college but then dropped out because she could not afford training fees. During her time at the vocational college, Thuy took part-time work at a restaurant, which finished at 10.30pm, to cover her living cost. However, after spending 2 years pursuing college, Thuy decided to stop her education because of the unaffordable tuition fees.

Then she was introduced to REACH by a friend of hers and she grasped this opportunity.

“At first, I was shy, unsociable and afraid to talk to anyone. But then my teacher encouraged me and my fellow trainees to share our own stories with each other and it worked. We felt more connected, comfortable and we trusted others to confide in. REACH felt like home to me” said the girl.

She is now working at the Cooking Division of Sushi Kei restaurants and able to earn around 4.5 million Vietnam dong per month. Such income enables her to give her family some financial support. Thuy has a plan to learn Japanese because “The language competency will be my asset when applying for a new job and it gives me better leverage to career promotion and wage increase”. 


Coding class
Coding class

In 2017, after a long period of research into market demand and real-world conditions of REACH students, we designed the Web Coding course with the intention of helping these students find a good job. 

Nowadays, Digital Technology is developing more and more, leading to a high demand for technical skills such as Web Coding. These jobs require strong professional skills and students need to be trained to be able to meet market demand and earn a very attractive salary. In addition, these jobs do not require much physical movement which makes them extremely suitable for young people with leg disabilities or difficulty in traveling.

 REACH has decided to open the "Web Coding" class at REACH Hanoi with enthusiastic support from students. Currently, the first course consists of 14 trainees. Teachers and students are very focused and dedicated to teaching and learning so that after 6 months graduates will have good professional skills and be ready for a better future.

 With the ongoing efforts of our teachers and REACH staff, we will continue to monitor, evaluate and improve this course, adding a valuable alternative to this vocational orientation for the future.

 REACH would like to sincerely thank our sponsors and businesses for their contribution to this meaningful course!

In other updates, KOI Bento - a Social Enterprise initiative in which 100% of profits help disadvantaged young people studying at REACH - is just launched. 

KOI Bento provides the service of Japanese lunch-box delivery. The preparation of KOI Bento is done by REACH cooking students and so provides them with an opportunity to improve their skills in a business environment. Most foods which make up the main ingredients are imported from Japan and are served in a completely Japanese style. Fresh raw vegetables are carefully selected from local markets.

 When it comes to KOI, you can be completely assured of the quality of the food. Carefully selected raw ingredients, delicate processing and amazing decoration will help you enjoy a nutritious meal with a rich Japanese flavor KOI lunch:

    Japanese main ingredients! 

   Japanese processing style! 

  Varied menu, daily specials!

   Quick delivery service! 

 Facebook Fanpage: KOI Bento - Am thuc Nhat Ban

Coding class #2
Coding class #2
KOI Bento cook and students
KOI Bento cook and students
Bento box made by REACH students
Bento box made by REACH students


Graduation product of cooking students
Graduation product of cooking students

Jan – June  2017 is the period when everything in our core program falls into place. 346 youth graduated from REACH training program in the first half of 2017 with above targeted job placement outcomes. Another batch of 224 students started their training at the end of March.

In this period, we officially expanded 6 months on-the- job hospitality training program (YCI) to Ho Chi Minh city with the participatioin of  Le Meridien Saigon, InterContinental Saigon, Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers and Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon.

Besides the partnership with 5 stars hotels, we have also developed a new work based training partnership in Danang with FPT, one of the biggest IT corporations in Vietnam. Toward this partnership, Web & Graphic Design students will receive foundation IT training at REACH for 2.5 months before they are sent to FPT for advanced training for 1 month. FPT is also committed to recruit REACH students upon satisfactory performance. Out of 20 WGD students who were sent to FPT in Danang for advanced training, 16 have received offers to continue working with FPT in projects targeting Japanese customers

This month, 23 youngsters graduated from cooking course after 3 months of training. Once again, we had the pleasure of doing the hard work of being judges in their final exams. We tried our best to be critical but couldn't help hiding our pride when seeing their products and how far the students have gone after only 3 months time.

If you wonder what REACH's cooking students are and What they do after graduating from REACH? Let's meet Thang and Thuy.


Thang has 5 siblings. He is from a poor farming family in Thanh Hoa province. Thang dropt out of school at grade 9 because his parents could not afford his schooling.

Thang dropt out of school to help his mother in farming work for a few years before starting working in a wood workshop 2 years ago. Thang's father was former soldier. He was shot in his head and had to leave the army and was diagnosed with heart defect two years ago. The whole family relied on farming work, which only provided income of about 10 million ( about $500 per year).

Thang is currently attending cooking training at REACH. Thang knew about REACH through an introduction from a friend who studied F&B at REACH. One of the things Thang remembers the most is how hard it was to toss mixing food with pan (it took him 4 days to learn the skill!)

Thang plans to work for 4-5 years to improve his cooking skill and have enough savings to open a small restaurant in his hometown.



Thuy is 20 years old, from a farming family in Thanh Hoa province. Her family is one of the poorest household in the commune with the income of less than $45 per month. ( They are certified as poor household by local government).

Thuy has one younger brother, who is at grade 10. Her father and mother are both farmers. However, the income from farming work is so little that they have to find different seasonal work to earn extra income for the family. Her father has a hearing diffculty so it has been very challenging for him to find job. During harvest season, he can be hired to help other households' farming work with the pay of about 2.5 dollars per day. But the job only lasts for 5-7 days.

Thuy's mother also sells home-grown vegetable at a local market. She also collected trash that can be recycled to sell. 

After finishing grade 12, Thuy wanted to attend university but she knew that it would be just a dream. She enrolled in a 3 year vocational training program at a college but then dropt out because she could not afford training fees. When she studied at the vocational college, Thuy took part-time job at a duck restaurant to cover the expenses. After finishing her class in the morning, Thuy went to the duck restaurant . At the restaurant, there was no time to rest. She did different kind of work, from pucking the tails/ feather out of ducks, running the table, serving the customer, selling, washing the dishes.  Her work continued until 10.30pm, only then she could have dinner. After that, she rode her bicyle for another 30 minutes to her dormity, which was close by then. 

After 2 years, Thuy decided to stop her college education as it's too expensive for her. Then she was introduced to REACH through a friend. Thuy know that REACH's free vocational training program is a chance for her. 

Thuy graduated from REACH cooking training in March 2017. Now she is working as a cook at Japanese Sushi Kei restaurant. 

Graduation product of cooking students
Graduation product of cooking students
Cooking students
Cooking students



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Location: Hanoi, Hanoi City - Vietnam
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Hanoi, Vietnam
$44,737 raised of $60,000 goal
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