Nguyen Dai Dong, head of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs' Employment Department, spoke to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper about improving the quality of the labour force.
What is the status of the labour market?
According to our job strategy for the 2011-20 period, the country needs to create at least 15.3 million jobs. On average, we target creating about 1.6 million jobs every year. Yet, the more critical problem is the quality of the labour force, not the number of jobs.
This is a big challenge as our human resources education and training have not met demand. Although Viet Nam has an extensive network of education and training with nearly 300 universities, we focus on social science majors and neglect technology and management, especially the advanced management major. Plus, education and training has been too focused on theory.
How can we solve this problem?
We must improve the education and training system, especially vocational training. The content offered in education courses plays an important role in creating a high-quality labour force, which takes a lot of time to develop.
Migrant workers have a tendency to return to their hometowns to work. What do you think about this?
About 10 to 15 years ago, industrial zones were located in certain areas in HCM City and Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces in the south, as well as in Ha Noi and a few surrounding provinces in the north. At that time, many migrant workers worked in those localities.
In recent years, many industrial areas have been built in the north such as Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, Vinh Phuc, Phu Tho and Quang Ninh provinces. So many migrant workers have returned to their provinces to work. I think it is a positive trend. I think businesses should improve employment policies to keep and attract more labourers.
What do you think of the salary of labourers now?
At present, the salary in Viet Nam is still low. Although the highest minimum wage has recently risen to VND2 million (US$96) per month, workers in Ha Noi and HCM City still cannot have a normal living standard with that salary. In addition to increasing salary, businesses should improve salary policies to keep and attract labourers. The state always encourages businesses to pay higher salary than regulated for workers. Workers also need to improve their skills so they can qualify for a higher salary.
What do you anticipate about the labour market this year?
Based on the current situation, I think the labour market this year will face a shortage of highly skilled workers. There will be a lack of unskilled workers in many industrial zones. This has been a recent trend. To solve this problem, socio-economic development strategies must be involved. I think we should set up economic zones to attract labourers instead of building industrial zones only in Ha Noi, HCM City and Dong Nai and Binh Duong provinces.
What breakthrough will be achieved in the next 10 years?
We cannot see clearly a breakthrough in 10 years. But at this time, I think it would be the quality of the labour force.
What we need to do is to create more jobs in rural areas. The good point is that the Government has approved training programmes to develop the skills of workers in rural areas. If the skills improve, it would help transform labour from agricultural labour to non-agricultural labour. In order to do this, the skills, soft skills and discipline of workers in rural areas would be the breakthrough. — VNS