Boosting labour productivity to cope with pandemic aftermath

October 22, 2021 | 15:00
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There is a critical need in Vietnam to enhance skills for workers. Nguyen Chi Truong, director of the Occupational Skills Department at the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs, spoke to VIR’s Thai An on preparing properly for the recovery of the labour market after the pandemic threat drops.

How did the imbalance in labour supply and demand, as well as the high unemployment rate in the third quarter, affect the country?

Boosting labour productivity to cope with pandemic aftermath
Nguyen Chi Truong, director of the Occupational Skills Department at the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs

The unemployment rate increased to the highest level since Q1 of 2020, which has partly shown that the current one-time training model is outdated and needs to be replaced by regular training and skill improvement for workers.

Statistics show that only a quarter of the current 51 million workers have been trained enough to receive certificates or diplomas, while the remainder do not have any type of official qualification and so we cannot properly assess their skill level.

Meanwhile, the youth unemployment rate of 7.85 per cent in the third quarter also calls for a re-evaluation of training programmes and raises the issue of needing to upskill Vietnamese workers.

Educating and training to improve skills for workers to adapt to new labour needs not only helps them maintain their jobs but also saves on recruitment costs. It will also mitigate risks for businesses when COVID-19 is controlled and production recovers.

Some businesses are currently applying automation as well as science and technology to solve the problem of labour shortages. How should workers adapt to this change?

In the policy of supporting training, we believe it is necessary to retrain, improve skills, make up for the shortfalls workers have sustained during COVID-19 restrictions, and help them adapt to the application of science and technology in preparation for businesses to restore operations. This is a big challenge for ministries, branches, authorities, and companies, as well as the workers themselves.

In addition, we need to encourage employees to be more responsible. Localities need to propagate, encourage, and coordinate with businesses to bring workers back to work when the pandemic is under control. During this time, businesses should actively promote digital transformation and the application of science and technology, but this often requires large costs and takes a long time.

The pandemic is changing worker habits and poses new skills challenges for both unskilled workers and people at managerial levels. How can workers be equipped with more skills while businesses are still struggling to restore production?

The pandemic is not the only factor here. Other issues affecting businesses and workers include the integration of science and technology, the onset of climate change, investment shifts, population ageing and demographics, and much more. We have to consider and develop skills that workers will need in order to adapt to these factors.

According to the World Economic Forum, by 2025 the top skills that workers will need are an innovative mindset, positive thinking, and designing and programming skills. Both unskilled and highly-skilled workers must continuously improve these skills so as not to become unemployed.

Therefore, we have developed a set of standards for each profession, field, and skill, and continuously updated the requirements for new skills so that training institutions can build appropriate training programmes. Based on this set of standards, enterprises can develop training and recruitment strategies, and employees will know the shortcomings that need to be improved.

In the near future, we will deploy a Vocational Skills Council and develop a suitable participation mechanism for employees, enterprises, and training institutions. State management agencies like our ministry (MoLISA) will now have the role of leading and standardising skills, helping businesses increase productivity, labour quality, competitiveness, and international integration for Vietnamese workers.

What solutions does the MoLISA have to support both businesses and employees?

The state will have support policies to reduce difficulties for workers and businesses, but this support cannot alone be sufficient enough to satisfy everyone.

I think that in any situation, employees must fully prepare basic skills such as the ability to adapt to the opening process in the new context, as well as being responsible and autonomous in the work.

The MoLISA is also implementing policies to support employees through the organisation of training based on workers’ needs, changes in the production process, science and technology, and policies on training new skills according to the requirements of new jobs.

This support is small, but in the long run, workers will gradually be equipped with the necessary skills and realise their values.

By Thai An

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