Delta struggles to keep labour force

Update: May, 06/2017 - 09:00
Prolonged drought and saline intrusion in the Mekong Delta in recent years seriously affected agricultural production in the region. — Photo
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — Võ Thị Châu of Bến Tre Province, who works as a domestic helper in HCM City’s District 7, has seven siblings, five of whom have moved to HCM City for work during the last three years.

“We do not have any formal schooling, so we can’t find a job in my hometown. We have no choice but to move to HCM City to work with a monthly salary of at least VNĐ4-5 million,” she said.

In recent years, the prolonged drought and saline intrusion have worsened agricultural production, leading to a sharp increase in the number of migrants from the region to HCM City and nearby provinces like Bình Dương and Đồng Nai.

In Long Phú District in Sóc Trăng Province, more than 6,000 people have moved to HCM City and Đồng Nai and Bình Dương provinces to seek jobs, according to local authorities.

Most of them have found jobs at factories in export processing zones or industrial parks. Although migrant workers can earn modest salaries, the job is better than staying in their hometowns.

Sa Thy, of Châu Thành District in Trà Vinh Province, said she and her husband had moved to Bình Dương Province for several months.

Her husband now works as a construction worker, while she works as a domestic helper for some families in Bình Dương Province.

“We can save around VNĐ2 million to send money back to my parents to take care of my four-year-old son,” she said.

“We can’t find a job in my hometown. We have no choice but to leave my son with my parents to take care of him and move here for a living. We plan to bring our son here if the job remains stable in the next few months,” she said.     

Dr. Võ Hùng Dũng, director of the Cần Thơ Chapter of the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said with a population of more than 17 million, the Mekong Delta region has an abundant labour force, but due to limited jobs, many people move to HCM City or other provinces like Bình Dương and Đồng Nai to look for work. 

Therefore, creating jobs for locals in the region is of great importance, Dũng said.  

According to official statistics, the population of the Mekong Delta accounts for only 19.5 per cent of the country’s total population, compared with 22 per cent in 1990.

Bạc Liêu, Cà Mau and Sóc Trăng are among the provinces that have the highest number of workers in the region moving to other places for work, accounting for 6- 14 per cent per year in recent years.

The problem has caused a lack of human resources in the region, which has held back socio-economic development in the region.   

Dũng said the region must develop new strategies and clear goals to attract more investors to the region. 

The low quality of infrastructure and services at industrial parks, the lack of local parts and materials, and poor transport remain challenges in the area.

Some economists suggested that, in the short term, the region should call for investment in fields that do not require a highly skilled labour force such as textiles and clothing.

Provinces in the region have failed to provide specific policies in recruitment, training, and incentives in land and tax, to attract investment.

Trần Khắc Tâm, chairman of Sóc Trăng Province Business Association, said the Government should revise planning for the Mekong Delta agricultural production area.

The region also needs to continue to improve infrastructure and develop a highly skilled labour force for the future. — VNS