Trade unions, better workforce needed for Industry 4.0 era

May 11, 2019 - 11:56
The quality of Viet Nam’s workforce and the role of trade unions' roles in protecting workers must be improved to meet the demands of the 4.0 industry era, experts said during a conference on work quality in foreign-direct invested companies in HCM City on Thurday.

HCM CITY - The quality of Việt Nam’s workforce and the role of trade unions in protecting workers must be improved to meet the demands of the 4.0 industry era, experts said during a conference on work quality in foreign-direct invested companies in HCM City on Thursday.

The employment rate remains above 70 per cent but the market faces a lack of highly skilled workers, with the unskilled accounting for 60 per cent of the jobless last year, according to Dr. Phạm Ngọc Đỉnh, a researcher at the Southern Institute of Social Science.

Each year, between 700,000 and 800,000 college and university graduates do not find jobs.

According to the General Department of Statistics in 2017 employment in agriculture, forestry and fishery accounted for 40.2 per cent of the workforce, although that figure has been declining in recent years.

Average productivity in the agriculture, forestry and aquaculture sectors is the lowest among all industries.

A report completed in the second quarter of last year found that around 54 per cent of the surveyed workforce had not received education or training for their positions, and only 33 per cent of the workforce thought that their current jobs matched their education.

Around 78.3 per cent of the workforce lack qualifications. More than 36 per cent of the workforce is involved in simple labour, and only a small percentage are focused on leadership roles, or mid- and high-level jobs.

Associate Professor Bành Quốc Tuấn of the HCM City University of Technology said that Việt Nam, as part of international integration, would receive more and more highly skilled foreign workers and make more use of automation.

According to the International Labour Organisation, within the next 10 years around 70 per cent of positions in Việt Nam will be at high risk of being replaced by machines, especially in industries such as textiles and garments, footwear, and electronic manufacturing.

Phạm Ngọc Đỉnh said that “workforce training should be improved through newer educational methods and curriculum, as well as better teachers and trainers at educational facilities.”

The unemployed and new graduates also need more assistance to find and access potential employers, he added. Regulations of employment centres and job assistance centres should also be updated.

Nguyễn Đỗ Trường Sơn of the Southern Việt Nam Economic Studies Centre under Việt Nam Institute for Development Strategies said the skill level of workers should be improved and that economic re-structuring in rural areas should take advantage of local specialties to promote tourism and handicrafts.

Raising awareness among workers of the importance of better skills and career orientation, as well as the role of small to medium sized businesses to the economy, will both be important in the digital transformation era, he said.

Trade union role

Dr. Phạm Ngọc Thành, director of The University of Labour and Social Affairs in HCM City, said the trend of international integration has changed FDI businesses' strategies, business models and workforce, with some companies using low-cost business strategies which could create conflict with workers' interests.

Associate Professor Hoàng Thanh Xuân, head of the science department at the Việt Nam Trade Union University, said the 4.0 industry era would affect employee relations within FDI companies, where low-skilled jobs will be replaced by higher skilled ones that require skills for high-tech production systems.

In addition, more and more employers are making use of short-term employment or employment without contracts, creating payment inequality between official and unofficial jobs.

He said that trade unions should protect the rights of employees in FDI companies, many of which do not have trade unions.

The unions should also use the latest digital technologies and include more young people with negotiation skills, he said.

The conference was organised by the Trade Union University on May 9. VNS