Thach Nguyen is a recruitment specialist at Japfa Vietnam, a supplier of animal feed products from Indonesia with a network of livestock and poultry facilities situated throughout the country.
Nguyen is constantly hunting for new workers, even though Japfa's average salary is around VND10.2 million ($430) per month, considered above the norm compared to other employers in the area.
“For every 100 new hires, 100 people quit. The most difficult farms to recruit for are in Hanoi, Bac Giang, and Nam Dinh because workers prefer to work in industrial zones rather than as livestock workers," said Nguyen.
According to Nguyen Tam Trang, chief people officer at GREENFEED Vietnam, the company is seeking as many as 2,000 employees in addition to the 4,000 currently working at the group's subsidiaries. “Positions related to animal husbandry and veterinary medicine are always in high demand,” Trang said.
This shortage in human resources is a difficulty shared by many other firms in the agricultural sector, leaving many in the industry unable to meet demand and fulfill contracts on time.
“Most of the talent pool is untrained, with little experience of the latest technical and economic models," added Trang.
Meanwhile, the number of people studying majors in agriculture is decreasing. According to statistics from the Ministry of Education and Training, there were only 7,100 students enrolled in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and veterinary medicine in 2022, accounting for 1.4 per cent of the total number of students enrolled across 25 training fields.
At a conference on cooperation in training and human resource development in agriculture, organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) two weeks ago, Ngo Hong Giang, director of the ministry's Organisation and Personnel Department, said that the primary and short-term vocational training system for the sector has fallen short, with some schools reaching only half of the registered target.
"Several traditional industries, such as agricultural extension, fishing, and forest resource management have little to no registered students," said Giang.
According to MARD, the cause of the situation is that the income of agricultural workers remains low, about half of what is available to workers in the industrial, construction, and service sectors.
“Sadly, the desire for jobs in agriculture among graduates is very low. They are simply better opportunities in other industries,” said Nguyen Trung Anh, director of Research and Sustainable Development of The PAN Group.
The challenges of building a sustainable agricultural labour force have led businesses to spend significant resources on an effective cooperation model with universities and training institutions in the hope of creating a new pipeline of high-quality human resources for the future.
GREENFEED is actively cooperating with more than 40 universities and colleges to implement programmes to award scholarships, sponsor scientific research activities, and create internship opportunities for more than 400 interns each year. The initiative also organises factory tours, soft skills training, and sharing sessions between GREENFEED leaders and students.
Another enterprise, Asia Ingredients Group (AIG), signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Can Tho University last year to cooperate in training high-quality human resources and create opportunities for students to experience on the job training at AIG member companies.
According to the MARD, by 2025, the market will need 10,000 agricultural managers, 80,000 agricultural cooperative staff, 100,000 trained farmers, and 60,000 technicians.