|By Shimizu Akira - Chief representative Japan International Cooperation Agency |
The COVID-19 pandemic is also posing great challenges to human resources (HR) development in Vietnam. Many experts believe that COVID-19 has revealed and even increased the gap in skills required to implement the flexible business strategies of enterprises. Therefore, improving the quality of HR is an urgent issue requiring efforts and cooperation of both governments, enterprises, and individuals.
In the context of COVID-19, all people and enterprises are forced to face challenges and to make drastic choices to adjust and survive in this unprecedented time of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.
Clearly, people with fewer skills and enterprises with less innovation and flexibility have been more severely impacted. Therefore, vocational schools and higher education could give the young generation opportunities to equip themselves with the entrepreneurial spirit and necessary business skills.
As for the enterprises, there has been an increasing tendency of supply chain diversification due to the trade conflict in the global economy. However, operations restricted due to COVID-19 revealed supply chain fragility. The factors to retain business and attract investment are becoming more complex.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) believes HR development is more important than ever for Vietnam to meet new demands and to remain resilient in the new normal.
With this view, we will strengthen our efforts to develop HR at the government, institutional, and individual levels alike.
JICA has cooperated with Vietnam to conduct various forms of HR training. By 2020, the number of Vietnamese students attending training courses organised by JICA was nearly 27,000 people.
Government level: updating knowledge for young policymakers
Through the Project for Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS), JICA has also made long-lasting efforts to create a nurturing and enabling environment for the private sector in Vietnam by equipping young Vietnamese policymakers with an open mind and up-to-date knowledge – to support those who will be formulating the country’s future development plans.
Since 2001, JDS has provided full scholarships to over 700 young Vietnamese officials for postgraduate education in Japan in key areas such as strengthening the market economy; improving economic infrastructure and enhancing transport, energy, agriculture, and the environment; as well as strengthening the legal system and administrative management capacity.
Especially, from 2022, the new phase of JDS will start with a new component on facilitating human resource development for industrial development.
Institutional level: enhanced vocational training
Through a yen loan project on strengthening vocational education and training in Vietnam, JICA will collaborate with the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) to strengthen 13 vocational training institutions (VTIs) by upgrading equipment for machine manufacturing, electricity, and electronics training to the same standards as at the Japanese Polytechnic College aiming at providing Vietnamese industries with highly skilled labour force.
Although this loan project is still in a project formulation stage, JICA also plans to implement a new technical cooperation project with the MoLISA to strengthen the capacity of these VTIs to develop training curricula of Japanese polytechnic college standards in machining, electricity and electronics while improving instructors’ technical skills and capacity in conducting high-quality practical training.
JICA believes that this cooperation will help VTIs and trainees to meet the demand of businesses and industries.
Individual level: education and training for business leaders and next generation
JICA has assisted Vietnam in meeting the demand for industrial human resources in various stages of industrial development since the 2000s through various technical cooperation projects.
The first to be named is the Project for Institutional Capacity Development of VJCC for a Landmark of Development and Networking for Managerial Human Resources. This project provides Japanese style business management courses such as Keieijuku and business courses for Vietnamese business leaders through the Vietnam-Japan Institute for Human Resources Development (VJCC), which has locations both in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Keieijuku introduces the philosophy and practice of Japanese-style business management, which considers employees’ assets, puts clients at the top, and assigns great importance to the quality of products and services, leading to a trust-based business culture and society. It ultimately helps business leaders to have clearer vision.
The Vietnamese companies of around 700 ex-participants of Keieijuku courses have formed an alumni group, which has grown to be a strong business network and has been playing a significant role in Vietnam’s socioeconomic development. Many of them established business linkages with Japanese and other foreign companies.
In addition to the development of highly skilled management and HR, the VJCC started the Japanese-style International Business (JIB) bachelor’s degree programme. The first group of students has graduated this September, and this programme will continue to create a large pool of qualified human resources who will take managerial positions at both Vietnamese and Japanese companies in the future.
Vietnam-Japan University (VJU) was established in 2016 as a member of Vietnam National University, Hanoi as a symbol of friendship between the two nations, with the mission of nurturing the next generation of leaders, managers, and experts in Vietnam, Japan, Southeast Asia, and the world.
VJU puts liberal arts and sustainable development as its basic philosophy of education, aiming at training global leaders with a broader perspective and bringing in new values to the world.
JICA is currently implementing the second phase (2020-2025) of the technical cooperation project on improving education, research and university management at VJU.
In our fast-changing world, the open-minded, tech-savvy, receptive to new knowledge and skills, and adaptive young generation could lead Vietnam into a new era.
JICA has been conducting a survey on impact investment and ecosystem development in Vietnam, India, and Indonesia to identify global and country-specific ecosystem situations for startups. Under the survey, JICA has implemented the pilot projects to support product-market fit and impact measurement/management for two Vietnamese startups in home-based care service and aquafarming.
The results of this pilot project were very encouraging and JICA would like to continue exploring further assistance for emerging businesses.
Furthermore, JICA is about to start a survey on e-commerce capacity building for female business owners in Vietnam to support one of the most severely affected business segments by the pandemic.
At present, 200,000 enterprises and five million business households are owned by women, which shows that women are playing an important role in Vietnam’s economic development. However, according to a recent survey by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, 56 per cent of women-led enterprises had to stop or adopt intermittent operations due to social distancing and 15.7 per cent had their quarterly revenue reduced by more than 75 per cent of the same period last year, against only 7.7 per cent for enterprises led by men.
Adopting online tools to maintain businesses is vital, but female business owners lack the necessary knowledge and skills. Therefore, JICA will collaborate with the Vietnam Women’s Union to equip around 600 women with e-commerce knowledge and skills, some of which will receive follow-up support to develop online marketing tools.
Online training materials will be developed and a forum titled “Women Startups in the 4.0 Era” will be organised. Once the project is completed, the lessons learned can be distilled into recommendations for future cooperation.
JICA believes that it is time for Vietnam and Japan to strengthen the cooperation and find better ways to cope with the pandemic together for a better future. JICA will do its very best to nurture the skills, knowledge, and entrepreneurial mindset of Vietnam’s young generation, who will be leading Vietnam in the new normal.