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More efforts needed to reach the skill gap in Việt Nam

Update: October, 09/2017 - 18:30
Students in a practice class at a university. — VNS Photo
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — Amid increasing demand for talent from existing and newly established businesses, employers are facing challenges in finding the right candidates, according to a recent snapshot report on Việt Nam’s labour market by Adecco Vietnam, a subsidiary of Switzerland-based workforce solutions provider.

In the first half of 2017, there was a mismatch between the talent sought by employers and available workers, especially in the technology and accounting, it said.

“Businesses are looking for talent, however, the lack of sufficiently skilled applicants has led to the mismatch between supply and demand," said Lê Nguyễn Ngọc Thanh, recruitment business director of Adecco Vietnam.

“It is not only fresh graduates who need to boost up their skills, 51 per cent of employers think even experienced candidates do not possess up-to-date knowledge and practical skills required to perform their roles. Fixing the skills issues can lead to higher job satisfaction and improve company productivity and growth.”

The unemployment rate of youths with university training stands at an alarming rate of 17 per cent, the report said, noting that university and college curriculum is criticised for focusing too heavily on impractical theories while failing to provide students with pragmatic skills and knowledge.

While Vietnamese candidates are viewed as quick to learn, soft skills, such as problem solving, communication and leadership are among the areas that are lacking and require further training from employers.

Việt Nam’s issues with the widening skill gap is also reflected in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) 2017, where the country’s ranking of vocational skills declined from 95 in 2016 to 98 in 2017.

Việt Nam needs to get ready for a new wave of technology that will fundamentally change the way work is done, experts said.

Research from the International Labour Organisation showed that 85 per cent of textile, clothing and footwear workers in Việt Nam are at risk of being replaced by automation and robotics. White-collar workers are not fully immune either.

While Việt Nam’s entrepreneurial spirit is strong, the country needs to bridge the gap between the education system and the economic needs of the future, according to Adecco.

A look at countries ranked high on the GTCI in terms of vocational skills and talent readiness such as Germany and Switzerland shows a notable pattern – those are countries with a structured vocational/apprenticeship training programme that is aligned with their economic needs.

In Germany, for example, after graduating from high school, students can choose to either go directly to university or apply for an apprenticeship with companies. Most of the students opt for the latter as they receive on-the-job-training over a period of time before going to university. Such programmes allow students to obtain practical knowledge, develop their soft skills while making the most of their academic training later on.

Andree Mangels, general director of Adecco Vietnam, said, “At present, only less than 20 per cent of employers in Việt Nam maintain regular interaction with general education and vocational training institutes.

“The interactions are primarily focused on their short-term recruitment needs. More efforts are still needed to close the skills gap and structurally improve the quality of skill supply. Companies should be encouraged to work closely with educational institutions to develop curriculum and training programmes that align with recruitment needs and ensure relevant skills are being taught to future workers.”

With Việt Nam’s current economic potential and growing workforce, issues with the skills gap and youth unemployment need to be addressed for the country to realise its potential.

These tasks require a concerted and persistent effort among government, businesses and education institutions. — VNS

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