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|Vo Tan Long, chief digital officer of PwC Consulting Vietnam|
When it comes to digital transformation, we immediately think about investing in something huge and expensive, but it is not quite so. Speaking of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, much of the conversation is about transformations with large capital investments. However, the revolution in technology and digital transformation is a story of data which radically changes human factors and business models.
The human factor plays a central role in any transformation, which means that HR transformation will be the most important determinant of the success of an enterprises’ digital transformation project.
This is not only about skills but also about culture, the employees’ outlook on their work, the perception and empowerment of employees, and on ensuring seamless cooperation between different departments.
Employees will be on board with digital transformation only if technology makes their job more enjoyable, efficient, and they can get rewarded for the improved performance. Unless these conditions can be demonstrably met, businesses will not be able to get employees to buy-in.
Of course, any transformation will change investment priorities. Maybe we have to spend more time training people, which entails incurring certain costs. However, with the tremendous benefits gained from optimising and minimising costs in workflow, and increasing employee productivity, these investments should not be a challenge to digital transformation. This is one of the factors that we need to consider when investing in digital transformation, including investment in HR transformation.
Vietnamese people are quite receptive to changes in technology. According to the PwC Vietnam report, optimism here is much higher than the global average. About 90 per cent of Vietnamese respondents believe that technological developments will improve their job prospects in the future, much higher than the global sentiment of 60 per cent. Vietnam is also one of the countries with a fairly strong STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) movement, which is a prerequisite for enhancing capacities in the digital transformation process.
However, it should be noted that the working skills in the digital economy do not stop at understanding technology, it also requires soft skills, including the capacities for collaboration, initiative in work, as well as the ability to make decisions on the fly.
But there remain certain challenges. The PwC report also revealed that 45 per cent of Vietnamese respondents expressed concerns about job security due to automation. According to International Labour Organization, only over 20 per cent of the Vietnamese workforce are skilled workers, and the remainder is a huge underutilised resource. In addition, small- and medium-sized enterprises will also face many difficulties related to investment in digital technology and training to improve the capacity of their workers.
There is never enough training in technology and skills for digital transformation. Most college graduates today will take some time to get onboarded to the economy. Therefore, we think that the connection between enterprises and training institutions is very important, not only at the university or college level but also vocational training.
So far, there is a disparity in students’ future career path choices and the demand of the economy. In the past 10-15 years, economics, social, and financial majors have been very popular. Even the majority of Vietnamese students going abroad apply to study economics, marketing, or communications rather than IT, biochemistry, mechanics, automation, or robotics.
While not everyone can participate in university training in IT, the opportunities to participate in the digital economy is open to everyone.
Working with a number of businesses in Vietnam, we realised many organisations struggle to find people with the right skills and knowledge for leadership positions in digital transformation, hence the constant demand for foreign experts in this area. However, immigration and travel restrictions during COVID-19 have put certain pressure on this shortage. This is just an example on how the government can help address this issue by establishing legal frameworks and setting the conditions for increasing the competitiveness of Vietnam in attracting digital skills to the country.
It should go hand in hand with other measures in urban living conditions, safety and healthcare, tax treatment to individuals and enterprises participating in the digital economy.
- 93 per cent of Vietnamese workers are already making an effort to reskill and upskill;
- 34 per cent are looking to become proficient in a specific technology;
- 88 per cent are provided with opportunities to improve their digital skills at work;
- 55 per cent feel the responsibility for upskilling is on themselves.
Source: Digital Readiness Vietnam Report 2021, PwC Vietnam