Trying to reverse the brain drain
HCM CITY (VNS)— Officials estimate there are nearly 400,000 overseas Vietnamese intellectuals, all highly educated and some are even top experts in their fields, but the country is so far failing to attract them.
Speaking at a forum as part of the second overseas Vietnamese conference, Tran Tuan Dung, deputy head of the Department of Economic Relations, Science and Technology under the National Committee for Overseas Vietnamese, said overseas Vietnamese have been working in almost all hi-tech sectors, including bio-technology, information technology, aerospace and many others.
As an example, there are currently around 10,000 Vietnamese working in Silicon Valley.
According to the committee, there's also a growing number of young Vietnamese intellectuals going to work abroad, also in many hi-tech sectors.
The committee estimates that about 300 overseas Vietnamese come back to the country to engage in cooperative programmes in research and education, mostly on a short-term basis.
However, the number is still quite modest.
Experts at the conference pointed out that attracting overseas Vietnamese was not just about attracting the number of remittances.
Professor Ha Ton Vinh, president cum CEO of American Stellar Management Corporation, said experiences in countries such as China and South Korea have shown that overseas intellectuals had played a significant role in those countries' dramatic growth.
Viet Nam has been falling behind in attracting overseas Vietnamese, he said.
The overseas committee says it acknowledged that the country had not paid enough attention to creating a conducive working environment that could benefit the overseas Vietnamese who want to go back. In many provinces, the focus has just been on the investment and the money, not the on the intellectual contributions.
Pham Nam Kim, an overseas Vietnamese in Switzerland, said overseas Vietnamese always had a mindset toward the country. "We want to delete the image of overseas Vietnamese, or viet kieu, that ties with US dollars and the remittances. We want to work and apply what we know for the better of this country."
With more than 30 years' experience working in various Asian countries, professor Vinh said there must be a clear commitment to invite the overseas intellectuals to teach and conduct research at the university level and beyond, building educational centres and projects.
In addition, there must be clear policies for attracting prominent overseas Vietnamese to visit the country before they decide whether they should live and work in Viet Nam.
Duong Van Qua, chairman of the Vietnamese People's Association in Japan, said the Government must have effective policies to lure back the overseas Vietnamese.
These polices could include a long-term vision that involve cross sectors and ministries, creating information portals for the overseas Vietnamese who want to return, establishing cohorts of experts at different sectors, setting up priorities and building pilot programmes such as in science, technology and education - the areas where most overseas Vietnamese want to contribute. — VNS