|Taiwan and Japan are expected to remain the top destinations for Vietnamese workers this year with 90 per cent of all overseas employees working there.— Photo vov.vn
Nguyễn Gia Liêm, deputy director of the Department of Overseas Labour told a workshop on Việt Nam’s labour export held in Quảng Ninh Province on Friday that Japan in particular was the market of greatest potential for Vietnamese workers.
“Japan doesn’t only pay well but also is a market of cutting-edge science and technology with highly skilled labour,” Nghiêm said.
Japan and Taiwan, however, were not the only countries and territories receiving Vietnamese workers.
Deputy Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs minister Nguyễn Thị Hà said there were up to one million workers deciding to work overseas under official contracts since 2006.
Labour export helped to alleviate the burden of creating jobs for the country’s young and dense population, she said, which provided employment for approximately 10 per cent of the labour force.
While Việt Nam continued sending most of its workers to its main labour markets in East Asia, Middle East and Malaysia, the Government is looking to expand its pool of receiving countries, the deputy minister said.
Brunei, Singapore and Saudi Arabia recently started taking in Vietnamese workers while other developed nations like Australia, the United States and Canada as well as European markets like Finland and Italy were also destinations workers were heading.
Market expansion was in line with an increase of occupations Vietnamese people are taking, Hà said, including many opting to work in the health sector as nurses and auxiliary staff.
The outlook for labour export may be bright, but the key challenge for Vietnamese workers to take advantage of such opportunity was their low skills, which greatly hindered them from higher incomes.
Professor Nguyễn Cảnh Toàn at Thăng Long University said the rate of skilled labour barely reached 20 to 30 per cent of the total overseas workers. Most of them, in fact, had manual labour jobs.
According to Toàn, a Vietnamese worker’s monthly income minus living expense in markets of low pay like Malaysia ranged between VNĐ3 and 4 million (US$130-173) or from VNĐ7 million to VNĐ12 million in middle-paying countries including those in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The workers could earn up to VNĐ15 million to VNĐ20 million in top paying markets like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
While English is considered to be “the key to open treasures” when working overseas, it was one of the weakest skills of Vietnamese labour, Professor Toàn said.
The average IELTS score of Vietnamese overseas workers stood at only 5.78, putting them in the low-middle group in terms of English proficiency, he said, lagging behind other ASEAN countries like Malaysia (6.64 points) and the Philippines (6.53 points).
Việt Nam Labour Export Association vice chairman Nguyễn Ngọc Quỳnh agreed that poor English was one of the biggest disadvantages of Vietnamese labour besides their disrespect to discipline.
“Many employers have said Vietnamese workers are hard-working but not following set rules and protocols,” Quỳnh said.
“Foreign companies now have to spend more time training our workers than those from other countries. But the training does bring out clear results, for example, workers in Japan after training have relatively good behaviour and quickly adapt to the new working environment.”
Professor Toàn said the Government had to find a way to improve the quality of the workers for their own sake as countries who set high demands for skills and discipline would also have very attractive salaries and good working conditions.
“Overseas workers now bring back US$2.5-3 million of remittances every year. If we can enhance the quality and send them to developed markets to work, the remittance amount will surely be even higher,” he said. — VNS