Vietnam needs a “revolution” in vocational training
July 27th, 2011
Two powerful ministries: the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET); both get involved in the vocational training. However, the quality of Vietnamese labor force remains low.
While MOET keeps quiet, Deputy Minister of MOLISA Dam Huu Dac has admitted that the quality of Vietnam’s labor force is lower than that in other regional countries. He said that the majority of laborers are blue-collar workers, while up to 65.3 percent has not gone through any training courses.
The beautiful figures
According to MOET, the number of people going through training courses from the intermediate level to university level has been increasing significantly over the last 10 years. In 2000, there were 893,754 university and junior college students, and 182,994 vocational school students. Meanwhile, the figures rose to 1,935,739 and 685,163, respectively in 2010.
MOLISA has also reported the sharp increases in the number of people going through vocational training courses. In 2001, vocational training courses were given to 887,300 people, while the figure rose to 1.538 million in 2008.
The budget allocated for vocational training has also been increasing steadily. In 2001, the state budget spent 15,609 billion dong on education and training, while the figure rose to 104,775 billion dong in 2010.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan, admitted that while the number of people attending training courses has increased, the quality of the labor force has not increased accordingly; and Nhan said that Vietnam needs a revolution in vocational training.
The actual quality of the labor force
According to the General Statistics Office GSO, in 2009, the number of trained laborers just amounted to less than 1/5 of the total labor force, and only 17.6 percent of laborers aged 15 and higher went through technical training courses. As such, there is a big gap between the statistics released by training agencies and GSO.
Commenting about Vietnam’s labor quality, Dr Ho Duc Hung from the HCM City Economics University, said the productivity of Vietnamese laborers is lower by 10 times than Indonesian, lower by 20 times than Malaysian, lower by 30 times than Thai and lower by 135 times than Japanese.
“It would really be a blunder if considering cheap labor force as an advantage, because the factor that decides the turnover and profit of enterprises is the productivity,” he said.
Who to be responsible for vocational training?
On April 19, the government released the Decision No 579, approving the strategy on labor force development in 2011-2020, which says that Vietnam strives to have 55 percent of the total labor force gone through training by 2015, while the percentage would be 70 percent by 2020.
This means that the percentage of trained laborers needs to increase from 17.6 percent in 2009 to 55 percent by 2015, which is really a heavy task.
At present, both MOET and MOLISA take responsibility for vocational training, and each of them takes care for their areas. However, people believe that there is an overlapping in the areas, while the intricate names of the training levels make them confused.
When conducting surveys, GSO simply classifies the professional levels in five groups: 1) primary level 2) intermediate 3) junior college 4) university and 5) higher education. Meanwhile, the two ministries keep following the training mechanisms with complicated names and management methods.
A project run by the Ministry of Planning and Investment and UNDP on labor and job opportunities has pointed out that Vietnam has been behindhand in the region in terms of labor skills. This seems to be a surprise for Vietnam, the country where people attach much importance to learning. Besides, heavy investment programs and ODA (official development assistance) projects have disbursed a lot of money for education and training.
A recent analysis shows that most of the spending has not been used effectively and that Vietnam needs to reconsider the current vocational training programs.