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Vietnam boasts a labour force of almost 60 million workers, growing by over 1 million per annum. 35% of these are generation Y born between 1976 and 1995. Almost 95% of the labour force are literate and over 88%x were enrolled in secondary school, whilst 5% are proficient English and over 10% are considered highly skilled. Of this work force 42% are engaged in the agricultural sector, 35% in the service sector and 23% in industry.
There are however some significant challenges as the significant increase in Foreign Direct Investment over the last 5 years has seen an increased demand for highly skilled workers and demand for senior staff has been growing at 10-15% over the last few years.
In moves to bring more of the population out of the poverty level, minimum wages have been increasing at rates which far exceed productivity growth and the minimum wage has almost doubled in the last 5 years. Overtime premiums which average almost 50% are far higher than the regional average and employer contributions to social and medical insurance at 25% are also much higher than the regional average.
Recruitment of senior staff is a major consideration in the IT, manufacturing, and retail sectors, where demand is reportedly growing 10-15% per annum.Banking and finance is also a sector which is challenged and although we have seen local Vietnamese taking over the CEO roles in 2 international banks, the most well-known one being HSBC, overall there remains a shortage of skilled staff.
However, if Vietnam is to make a success of the new FDI strategy announced by the MPI, which attracting investment into sectors that bring the most added value, use new technology, and which promote R & D then school leavers and graduates joining the work force need to be better prepared and have a higher degree of soft skills and creative thinking.
Kenneth M Atkinson