VietNamNet Bridge – Britain’s exit from the EU should make ASEAN members think about the ramifications of the free movement of skilled workers, a senior economist has said.



Vietnamese workers are mostly untrained and that will cause difficulty as the AEC comes into effect. – Photo


Speaking at a seminar on Wednesday titled “Brexit and the ASEAN Economic Community from the Perspective of Integration”, Truong Dinh Tuyen, also a former industry and trade minister, said because of their different integration and decision making systems, the UK’s decision would not have any impact on ASEAN’s integration process but offers lessons for the future of connectivity.

Highlighting the differences, he said the EU decides by a simple majority while ASEAN requires consensus and the EU is like a big nation but ASEAN is basically still 11 different nations.

“What will the ASEAN Economic Community do next and what are the consequences of professional workers moving within the community?”

He said there could be two consequences.

The first is that if the working environment is not comfortable, skilled professional workers would move around ASEAN, he pointed out.

Secondly, if Vietnamese human resources are not professional enough and cannot meet the country’s development needs, skilled workers from other ASEAN members would replace them, he warned.

“Movement of professional workers is an international trend and this has become a long-term and basic trend. Viet Nam must learn how to adapt to it.”

To improve the situation, Viet Nam should change the training mindset, fostering everyone’s capabilities, changing from passive to active learning, encouraging logical thought and imagination, making students stronger, promoting risk-taking abilities, and focusing more on soft skills, he said.

“Updating knowledge, improving English and IT skills, effectively exploiting the internet and learning lifelong are very important.”

The current human resource quality score for Viet Nam based on World Bank’s standards is 3.78 out of 10 while it is 4.94 for Thailand, 5.59 for Malaysia, 5.76 for India, and 6.91 for South Korea.

Its rate of trained workers remains low at 18.4 per cent.

Furthermore, the structure of the Vietnamese workforce last year was diametrically opposite to that of the international market: it had 1 university graduate for every 0.35 worker with a college degree, 0.65 worker with an intermediate diploma and 0.4 worker who attended primary school.

Dr Le Dang Minh of the economics faculty of Van Hien University said “The Government should immediately improve the quality and competitiveness of workers and this will require a thorough overhaul of the education and vocational training system.”

Workers must be fully acquainted with the jobs information system so that they can get jobs rapidly as well as know about the regional job market, he said.

“Labour demand prediction should be improved.”

Effect on VN

Britain has invested US$4.7 billion in 239 projects in Viet Nam, second only behind the Netherlands in the EU.

Trade between Viet Nam and the UK is low, meaning the direct impact of the latter’s EU exit would be small though the indirect impact would be bigger, Tuyen said.

“The devaluation of the euro will hit Vietnamese exports.”

Vietnamese exports to the EU would also drop because of the economic impact on the bloc, he said.

Dr Luu Ngoc Trinh of the World Politics and Economy Institute said “The clear impact will be on the free trade agreement between the EU and Viet Nam because it might have to be renegotiated as Viet Nam-UK and Viet Nam – EU (without the UK) deals.”

The seminar was organised by Van Hien University.

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