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AEC spells vast opportunities for skilled workers

 VietNamNet Bridge – Workers in Vietnam will face much stiffer competition from regional peers given the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) allowing for freer movement of labour within the region.

VietNamNet Bridge – Workers in Vietnam will face much stiffer competition from regional peers given the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) allowing for freer movement of labour within the region.


The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates employment in Vietnam will likely increase 10.5% over the next decade as a result of the formation of the economic bloc, with most of the growth occurring in the clothing, textiles and service industries.

A recent ILO survey, looking at the fifteen-year period from 2010 to 2025, indicates roughly half of the growth in demand for labour will occur in the low to medium-skilled job categories and the remaining half in the high skilled grouping.

With a working-age population of nearly 53 million, a high literacy rate of 93% and encouraging achievements in basic education the ILO says Vietnam appears ready to meet the need for low to medium skilled labour in the near future.

However, the ILO says meeting the need for quality and highly skilled workers is a different matter.

Though the nation has made notable progress, having increased the rate of trained workers from 30 to 50% over the last decade, this will only partially meet the requirements of the employment market over the next 10 years.

To be certain, the qualification of technical workers has improved says the ILO and this fact is evidenced by the increased number of local technicians capable of performing complex jobs that used to be filled solely by foreigners.

Further, the country has been sending workers to other ASEAN countries, with thousands annually migrating to Malaysia alone, demonstrating unequivocally that workers’ have the capability to integrate into the region community.

However, citing World Bank statistics the ILO says, the quality of Vietnam’s work forces still lag behind other countries in the ASEAN and Asian regions and much more must be done to compensate.

The World Bank rated the quality of Vietnamese workers at just 3.39 points on a 10-point scale.

This productivity of workers is far too low says the ILO— just one-fifteenth of Singapore, one-fifth of Malaysia and two-fifths of Thailand, resulting in the workers being grouped in the lowest tier alongside three other ASEAN countries.

The survey shows the country’s human development index is also relatively low, standing at 0.638 as compared with 0.901 of Singapore, and once again in the lower rung on par with that of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Not only short of skilled workers that had not received training, even trained workers fell short of expectations and failed to meet satisfactory requirements regarding job-related skills, ILO analysts point out.

In many instances these workers had to be retrained.

The most significant problem areas include poor English language proficiency, lack of problem solving skills, inadequate critical thinking skills, poor teamwork marks and deficient self-discipline skills.

Analysts attribute the problems to the fact that nearly half of Vietnam’s work force is rooted in the agricultural industry where productivity, incomes and working conditions and training have historically been low relative to other countries in the region.

Director Dr Mac Van Tien of the National Institute for Vocational Training attributes the less than satisfactory quality of the nation’s work forces to poor-quality training that failed to meet the country’s needs in moving from an agriculture to a more industry based economy.

Speaking at a recent seminar in Hanoi looking at changes in the labour market brought about by the AEC, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Doan Mau Diep also expressed concern over the state of affairs in the labour market.

Diep said many Vietnamese workers may lose in the competition for jobs right here at home, given the immediate free movement of workers within the region in the eight specifically AEC identified occupations [accountancy, architects, medical and dental practitioners, engineers, nurses, surveyors and tourism professionals].

Director Nguyen Thi Lan Huong of the Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs, in turn agreed that Vietnam workers might potentially lose in the competition with its neighbours in the skilled labour market if remedial actions aren’t undertaken.

Given that Vietnamese workers were rated just slightly higher than those of Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia, the proposition that Vietnamese workers are facing severe competition in the employment market should come as no surprise, Huong said.

She suggests the government should promptly adopt policies to support worker training programs and bring the nation’s work forces up to international standards while businesses should also do their fair share to boost training.

Meanwhile Rector Dang Van Sang of Anh Sang High School considers the AEC as a great challenge for Vietnamese workers, especially young people and it presents them with a tremendous opportunity to expand their horizons by taking assignments abroad and reach levels of advancement that hitherto did not exist.

Vietnam’s number one resource is its 53 million strong workforce said Sang, and the quality of workers has been steadily improving over the past few years with the rate of trained employees expanding.

As a nation, we need to continue down the path we are on and continue to make stable progress in training workers to meet the requirements of business and the employment markets, said Sang.

This will give the nation’s young workforces the skills they need to master state-of-the art technologies and vast opportunities to assume important positions in the business community that in the past were reserved only for foreigners.

The AEC was established on December 31, 2015, to transform ASEAN into a region with free movement of goods, services, investment and skilled workers and free flow of capital.

The bloc consists of the ten member states of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, with a total population of 600 million, including a 300 million strong work force.

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Source: VOV


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