Nguyễn Bích Lâm, former General Director of General Statistics Office
High-quality human resources are an important factor in economic development and Việt Nam urgently needs a strategy to develop a more qualified workforce. Dr Nguyễn Bích Lâm, former General Director of General Statistics Office, talks to the Vietnam News Agency about this matter.
Could you tell us about the strengths of the current Vietnamese workforce?
Việt Nam is in a golden period of population structure. Thanks to 67.8 per cent of the population being aged between 15-64, there is an abundant labour force.
Figures in 2020 showed that employment was at 97.7 per cent, which is quite high compared to developed countries. The human development index of Việt Nam increased from 0.683 in 2015 to 0.702 in 2020.
The division of labour by economic sector has also moved in a positive direction. In 2015, employment in agriculture, forestry and fishery accounted for 43.56 per cent. By 2020, this proportion has decreased to 33.06 per cent.
The scientific research industry, accounting for about 0.3 per cent of the total number of people working, has made practical contributions to the economic development of the country. Science and technology have improved the production, quality and competitiveness of products, goods and services.
Although Việt Nam's high-quality human resources have developed quite strongly, the low-quality labour force still accounts for a high proportion of the population. So, what are the limitations of Vietnamese human resources?
The proportion of low-quality labour force is still quite high. In 2020, the proportion of trained workers with certificates was at 23.6 per cent, but over 60 per cent of jobs were in the agricultural and informal sector, with low labour productivity. The labour discipline of Vietnamese people is generally low, lacking soft skills, the ability to cooperate and take risks, and hesitating to promote initiatives and share experiences.
Although the labour structure has changed in a positive direction compared with other countries in the region, Việt Nam's labour restructuring is still quite slow. Labour in service industries such as finance and banking, which is one of the main pillars of the economy, was only at 0.8 per cent in 2020.
The quality of human resources in science and technology is also limited, with a lack of leading scientists and experts in high-tech fields. Human resources for science and technology are unevenly distributed. Research cooperation and teamwork skills are still weak, making it difficult to form strong interdisciplinary research groups for long-term and sustainable operations.
In particular, we should think about the quality of education and training systems. In 2020, the World Bank ranked 1,000 universities according to three prestigious rankings: Webometrics, QS and THE. Việt Nam ranked lowest, lower than the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
The qualifications of cadres and civil servants in the administrative sector have not yet met the level demanded by industrialisation and modernisation because of poor community responsibility, tardy workmanship and slow innovation.
Việt Nam urgently needs a methodical, professional and specific strategy for the training of quality human resources; especially for attracting and utilising talent.
Can you point out how other countries train and attract talent?
The fourth industrial revolution will cause fierce competition between countries that take advantage of new technologies as they appear. These countries will be able to attract top talent, wherever it may lie.
As I see it, leaders of countries and CEOs of corporations are deeply aware of the fact that talented intellectuals will determine the development and position of countries in the international arena. Governments have strategies and policies to attract talent with incentives on wages, working conditions, additional support and other benefits.
To create and develop the world's leading human resource system, the US Government has always placed "human resources are the centre of all development". Their government focuses on attracting talent from all over the world and considers it vital to the country's development. The United States attaches special importance to higher education and fostering talent development.
The US government established human resource management agencies to attract, recruit and retain top talented students from universities. Those that come are always honoured in the world-class workforce.
China also has a policy of training and attracting talents and the country implements a lot of key economic and social policies relating to this. One of the key policies is training and attracting talent.
Singapore has the most methodical and clear policy of attracting foreign talent in the world. The government has encouraged the belief that talented people should always have higher positions, with salaries to match their capacity. Singapore is always ready to welcome foreign talents into the state apparatus.
Besides focusing on training and employing domestic intellectuals, the Party and State of Việt Nam always welcome overseas Vietnamese intellectuals. What policies does Việt Nam have to attract talented intellectuals?
Currently, our country has about 4.5 million people living, working or studying abroad, of which 3-3.5 million are of working age. Highly qualified people account for 10-15 per cent of the Vietnamese community abroad; 450-600 thousand people.
Currently, about 25 per cent of Vietnamese people in the US have a university or post-graduate degree; Vietnamese intellectuals in France number 40,000 people; Australia and Canada each host over 30,000 Vietnamese people and in Russia and Eastern Europe there are about 10,000 Vietnamese people. In Japan, there are up to 80,000 Vietnamese students, an increase of 15 times in the past 9 years. Of those living in Japan the number of PhD candidates is estimated to be up to 3,000 people; at least 1,000 people have obtained a doctorate degree and are doing post-doctoral research.
However, Việt Nam does not have a proper policy to attract overseas Vietnamese intellectuals back home to participate in scientific research and technological development in the country.
What solutions do you think Việt Nam needs to implement to address this problem?
In my opinion, in the immediate future, the Government needs to improve mechanisms for development, management and the effective use of the country's human resources. This incorporates many areas; law, mechanisms and policies on education and training, vocational education, wages, the labour market and civil servant recruitment.
The Government should also establish a national committee on reforming academic and vocational education. This must go hand-in-hand with scientific and technological development, with the needs of the labour market in mind.
The Government should also use assessment and retraining resources to fundamentally and comprehensively renew policies on recruitment and promotion within the state apparatus.
The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs should assume responsibility for reviewing the wage regime according to market principles, developing a remuneration regime that aligns both work results and the qualifications of employees.
In addition, the Government can improve on current policies of attracting overseas Vietnamese talents. The Government should make a list of overseas Vietnamese experts for domestic agencies, to help businesses invite these people to work for them. — VNS