Literature suggests that educational attainment is one of the significant factors affecting youth transition to work. The process of capital accumulation through education is suggested as the key marker of social inclusion and exclusion. This paper compares the educational attainment among youth in vietnam with their status in employment. It uses the data from the school-to-work transition survey of the international labour office with 2722 youth participants aged 1529 in different geographical areas in vietnam. The findings indicate that vietnamese youth have to face many challenges when negotiating their transition to work, especially when the educational attainment of the majority youth is low. A wide gap between education and learners needs and interests, the economic burden many young people had to bear and the low level of development of the economy with a large proportion of the informal sector are the main reasons for youth in vietnam to leave school early and to accept low quality work to earn their living. These problems need to be solved to help youth in vietnam approach better jobs in the market. 2017 Informa uk limited, trading as taylor & francis group.