Scientific skills shortage looms
HA NOI — Viet Nam would likely face a shortage of graduates in the fields of science and technology within the next five to seven years due to poor salaries and incentives, experts told a recent workshop in Ha Noi.
|Scientists work in a laboratory of the National Institute of Animal Husbandry. There will be a shortage of human resources in science and technology due to unattractive compensation, experts predict. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Dong
Ha Noi National University Deputy Director Vu Minh Giang said low enrolments in the fields of science and technology showed already that students were no longer interested in the fields.
"Therefore, head scientists will be unable to train skilled juniors in the future," he told the workshop.
Statistics from the Ministry of Science and Technology showed the number of science and technology organisations had sharply increased from 520 in 1996 to over 1,500 in 2012. The number of professionals in the fields had also tripled in 16 years to 60,500 now.
However, the increase was still unable to meet the demands of national development. This was because policies were not favouring scientists.
Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Van Tat Thu said: "Working effectiveness has yet to be properly considered in the salary system. The salary is not enough for a scientist and it won't attract professionals to work for a long time."
The award policy was still being influenced by the subsidy system, Thu said.
"For instance, an athlete who wins a medal for his country can be instantly awarded a third-class Labour Order but such an award cannot be bestowed on researchers who have performed valuable works."
Agricultural scientists earn VND5 million (US$240) per month for a professor and assistant professor and VND4 million (US$195) for holders of a doctorate degree.
No matter what the workload, or even if a staff scientist does nothing, they are paid the same salary.
Giang said: "We cannot apply the same treatment policy to all kinds of scientists. We need to stop measuring all scientists as the same and develop selective tiers of scientist groups." The main income of scientists nowadays was project subsidies that were paid to scientists to do research.
In 2006, the Ministry of Science and Technology had worked out a plan to offer more incentives to scientists, including a special financial mechanism for those responsible for national research.
It had also published extended policies which would give top conditions to national scientists working abroad and foreign scientists in Viet Nam.
However, these plans were never approved, for some unknown reason, scientists said at the workshop.
The workshop was hosted by the ministry and the Party Central Committee's Commission for Communication and Education. — VNS