VietNamNet Bridge – The demand for Vietnamese senior staff has been soaring amid a wave of Japanese investors flocking to Vietnam to set up their production bases.

While declining to give exact figures, Nguyen Thi Van Anh, director of Navigos Search, a head hunting firm, said 85 percent of Navigos’ clients who are seeking high ranking personnel are foreign-invested enterprises, the majority of which are Japanese.

“Most Japanese enterprises highly appreciate the qualified labor force they have hired in Vietnam,” Anh said.

Most recently, when assessing the development possibilities and the business environment in Vietnam, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) also predicted that Japanese investors now have higher demand for Vietnamese high-quality personnel.

The demand for Vietnamese information technology (IT) engineers will be increasing most sharply, according to the organization, based on its forecast that Japanese will focus on IT projects in the months and years to come.

A labor expert said that Japanese now tend to recruit Vietnamese high-ranking personnel because of the low cost of the labor force. Vietnamese engineers or managers accept monthly salaries on the order of $1,500-2,500. Meanwhile, if hiring Japanese workers, business owners would have to pay many times more for the same positions.

The expert commented that localizing the labor forces in the countries where foreign investors develop their investment projects is the thing all multi-national groups consider, because this allows them to save costs and optimize profits. Meanwhile, the qualifications of Vietnamese personnel have been significantly upgraded over the last few years, to be able to satisfy the strict requirements set by Japanese.

A report of the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) showed that Japan is the biggest foreign direct investor in Vietnam, with total registered investment capital of $35.4 billion so far.

Over 2,000 Japanese invested enterprises, including representative offices, have been set up in Vietnam so far, and the figure is expected to rise rapidly in the time to come. Therefore, it is not a surprise to anyone that Japanese human resource firms have also been present in Vietnam for one year to seek Vietnamese workers for Japanese enterprises.

However, the expert said that high ranking personnel in Vietnam are very scarce, even though the number of candidates finishing foreign prestigious schools and experienced workers returning from overseas has been increasing.

“There are the positions which cannot be undertaken by Vietnamese,” he commented.

A report lately released by VietnamWorks also indicates that recruiting key personnel remains a headache for businesses’ owners. Meanwhile, Vietnam has abundant low-level workers.

“Low-level workers” are understood as the workers in the probation period, new graduates and unexperienced workers.

The report said one low-level candidate has to compete with 101 other candidates to obtain a post. The demand for low-level workers accounts for 66 percent of the total demand, while the applications account for 75 percent.

The business fields which had highest demands for workers in the first three months of 2014 were information technology/software, administration/secretary, and accountant/customer care. Demand from the import-export and education sectors increased sharply during that time, but the supply lagged far behind demand.

HCM City, Bien Hoa and Da Nang have been named as the toughest labor markets, where one has to compete with 60 others to obtain a job.