|By Brendon Brookers-Acting first secretary Australian Embassy to Vietnam
As Vietnam moves towards becoming an industrialised modern economy, strengthening workforce skills through high-quality vocational education and training (VET) is becoming increasingly important.
While Vietnam has made advances in improving the capability of its workforce, a shortage of skilled workers continues to constrain economic growth. The consequences of staff lacking the right skills can include low workforce productivity, inconsistent quality of services or goods, decreased competitiveness in local and international markets, high training costs, and abnormally high services and goods costs.
The government of Vietnam has instructed VET colleges and businesses to work together to ensure that it meets the needs of employers and to improve delivery to international standards.
Vietnam and Australia are developing a strong tradition of reliable and effective cooperation in the field of VET. In 2018, an MoU was signed to enhance and promote cooperation in the fields of education, research, and professional development. Since then, Vietnam and Australia have been working across a range of different priority areas to strengthen VET.
The Australian model of VET, which is based on partnerships with government and industry, and on acquiring competencies through practical training, is highly regarded as a relevant and potentially applicable model for Vietnam. Under Australia’s model, state and federal governments provide funding and develop policies and regulation to maintain VET quality, and industry contributes to policy making, identifies priorities for skills development and participates in developing qualifications through the functions of Industry Reference Committees.
A feature of Australia and Vietnam’s cooperation is Australia’s Aus4Skills HRD programme. Through Aus4Skills, the Australian government will provide up to $95 million over 10 years (2016-2025) to support Vietnam to access and use high-level professional knowledge, skills, and competencies to contribute to the country’s sustainable economic and social development.
Since 2016, Aus4Skills has helped strengthen the engagement of Vietnam’s logistics industry in VET, enhanced the quality and governance of universities in Vietnam’s northern mountainous regions, funded Australia Awards Scholarships for Vietnamese citizens to undertake fully-funded studies at Australian universities, and much more. The Aus4Skills’ programme of VET support to Vietnam is showing considerable success. Since 2016, it has established a Logistics Industry Reference Council (LIRC), which brings together government, logistics businesses, and VET colleges to strengthen quality and ensure that curriculum aligns with workforce skills demands.
The LIRC has given industry a strong voice in skills development, produced Vietnam’s first-ever logistics industry skills forecast report, established 90 MoUs between logistics businesses and VET colleges, developed and revised dozens of logistics-related curriculum.
Furthermore 175 logistics teachers and trainers have received training from Australian experts to strengthen their teaching and curriculum development skills, and well over 100 colleges and businesses have strengthened their understanding of inclusive teaching practices or improved their leadership and strategic planning skills.
A focus on the logistics industry contributes to supporting resilient and effective supply chains in Vietnam, which is an economic recovery priority recognised by ASEAN leaders. Over time, we hope the that the lessons and results of this programme can be applied across other industries and VET fields of study.
Collectively, these achievements have benefitted 5,305 logistics students, and resulted in an eight-fold increase in enrolments in VET logistics courses, including a 20-fold increase in women’s enrolments and a three-fold increase in enrolments from people with disability. VET colleges are now better positioned to attract students and respond to the rapidly changing logistics sector with resilience.
Australia’s cooperation touches many areas of VET development and delivery. Restrictions associated with the pandemic have meant that the delivery of VET has had to move online. Australia is supporting Vietnam to build capacity in delivering VET using digital technology by facilitating a webinar series that showcases Australia’s capabilities in developing and delivering online. VET colleges are able to adapt these practices to their own virtual classrooms.
Australia is proud to be supporting Vietnam’s socioeconomic development through its work in developing VET, and it looks forward to building upon the success of our existing cooperation to continue contributing to HRD and connecting the people of both nations.