A bank’s new generation automated teller machines recently installed in Hanoi can handle most simple transactions of a traditional bank and thus can replace dozens of banking employees. A robot packing and sorting goods for delivery can replace a line of dozens of workers. An automated beverage factory only needs a few dozen highly qualified workers instead of hundreds like before.

These facts are cited by many experts who warn that to successfully transform into the digital economy, Vietnam needs to focus its resources to improve digital skills for the current workforce; otherwise, it will gain very little from this process, as many Vietnamese will lose their jobs.

Competing with robots



Chairman of the Board of Directors of FPT Telecom Hoang Nam Tien once said that in the near future, millions of young Vietnamese workers will be at risk of losing their jobs because of the digital economy. For example, the textile, garment, footwear and electronic assembly industries in Vietnam currently employs nearly 5 million people. About 70% of these workers may be unemployed in the next 10 years.

The reason is that they may be replaced by robots. After the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, in the near future robots will be used massively in production in Vietnam, and workers will have no way to compete with robots in terms of productivity and product quality, Tien said.

The report entitled "Vietnam's digital skills readiness" recently issued by Pricewaterhouse Coopers shows that job changes are happening rapidly after the Covid-19 pandemic. Up to 83% of Vietnamese respondents said their work will change in the next 3-5 years and 90% of the respondents said that their jobs will change in 6-10 years. The report also noted that 45% of Vietnamese respondents expressed concern about job security due to automation.

According to the International Labor Organization (IOL), Vietnam is identified as a country at risk of being seriously affected, because of the high rate of workers being replaced in the future. About 70% of jobs in Vietnam are at high risk of being displaced by automation in the next 10 years.

The digital economy brings a lot of benefits, but it also creates huge disadvantages and challenges. In this scenario, it is necessary to have reasonable responses to take into full play the advantages and minimize the disadvantages.

Jacques Morisset, chief economist of the World Bank (WB), said that to what extent the Vietnamese economy can benefit from the rapid digitalization process depends a lot on the development of the labor market. The process of digitization will lead to job loss but also new jobs. However, if workers do not learn new skills, they will not be able to seize those opportunities.

According to a report from the Central Institute for Economic Management, in Vietnam, informal workers and unskilled workers still make up the majority. The rate of trained workers is still low, reaching 24.5%. The structure of trained labor is not suited to practical needs. Vietnam's labor skills are still limited, reaching only 46/100 points (ranked 103rd in the world).

In the context of the 4th industrial revolution, if the quality of Vietnam’s human resources is not improved quickly, the country will face new risks and challenges, which will lead to the country's lagging behind others.

David Lang, a digital transformation expert at Yellow Blocks, who provides consulting services for leading corporations such as AT&T, Toyota, and Sony, noted that the digital economy is of course based on digital technology but the focus of the digital transformation strategy is not technology, but the human factor. In the process of digital transformation, technology is essential but the success of digital transformation needs the connection between humans and technology. When people are at the center of digital transformation, it could help the country increase GDP by 2% per year.

Digital manpower: training and retraining




Vietnam has set a goal that by 2025, the digital economy will account for 20% of GDP, labor productivity will increase 7% per annum and Vietnam will be among the 35 leading countries in innovation. To accomplish this goal, it is necessary to improve the digital skills of the workforce to meet practical requirements.

The head of the General Department of Vocational Education of the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs said that surveys show that up to 53% of Vietnamese enterprises do not know what skills are needed in the future. The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs has developed a digital transformation project. The first step is to identify the necessary digital skills in the future. In the coming time, not only will students be trained but more than 50 million workers will need to be retrained to adapt to the digital economy.

Economic experts say that to have human resources who can adapt to the digital economy, Vietnam must focus on training.

The next step is to promote a culture of lifelong learning in each organization and community, and build an ecosystem to support every citizen and worker with retraining and advanced training throughout life. Staff, especially information technology professionals, need not only a salary but also other benefits.

Jacques Morisset said acquiring new skills requires investment from individuals and businesses. However, the Government also plays an important role.

Specifically, the Government needs to focus strongly on equipping current and future workforce with the necessary digital skills to access digital opportunities, through technical training programs for each sector, increasing apprenticeship opportunities related to science, technology, engineering and math.

At the same time, more emphasis should be placed on "soft skills" in the curriculum from kindergarten to 12th grade. The labor market needs to be designed to be more flexible, allowing workers to easily move from one field to another field.

The authorities need to provide workers with adequate information on labor market trends and needs, to help them make decisions. Technical and vocational education programs must be improved.

To solve the challenge of human resources, Dr. Tran Trong Nguyen, from the Academy of Policy and Development (Ministry of Planning and Investment), says there should be many training courses, seminars to spread information, concepts, and knowledge about digital economy to all subjects. There must be programs and plans to foster and spread knowledge of the digital economy so that everyone is aware of the digital economy, from managers to implementers. When there is certain knowledge, there will be a change in thinking and better digital economy development.

Nguyen Dang Minh, Chairman of the Advisory Council at GKM Lean Institute, said that Vietnam is trying to overcome the middle-income trap. To solve this problem, human resources must be able to do more difficult things. It is necessary to change training strategies, as well as lead people in practice; to change training programs at general schools, then at vocational schools and universities. It must be determined that the ultimate human capacity is to create "Make in Vietnam" products, not just through grades or degrees...

Economic experts say that the digital economy not only creates a scale and growth rate for economies, but also makes changes in production methods and economic structure. Besides traditional resources, new resources will appear: digital resources and digital wealth. Financial power gradually turns to information power. The strength of a country is measured by the development of high technology, information and human intelligence.

Tran Thuy

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