|According to at least one recent survey, very few people are actually concerned that their jobs are under threat from further automation. Photo: Shutterstock |
As businesses and governments in Vietnam scramble to recover from the pandemic, digital transformation is more crucial than ever. The world of work and employment markets have been going through a profound shift to virtual, from remote working, webinars, online advertising, and entertainment to e-payments.
Adrien Bizouard, country manager of Robert Walters Vietnam, said that industries that have taken the lead in digital transformation include financial services and insurance companies, largely driven by the penetration of fintech companies. Fast-moving and standard consumer goods are the next sectors where companies will implement e-commerce platforms or introduce omnichannel transformation, using both online and offline channels.
An example would be Decathlon, a sports company which first opened online retail in Vietnam and only later opened a physical store. This shows how interesting the retail ecosystem can be – going from online to offline, even though it is usually the other way around.
“We do not see any impact on the traditional jobs (offline jobs), however, we see more digital jobs being created. They need to co-exist and collaborate. We see opportunities for offline people to do more online projects allowing them to grow their skills. Vietnam remains transitional – people are still making purchases offline even as they move online,” Bizouard said.
In addition, the new generation is a group that is very engaged and has a big appetite for digitalisation. They are keen on exploring and interested to join startup companies to work on exciting and challenging projects. Overall, this new change is creating more jobs and opportunities, according to Bizouard.
Digital competence is increasingly shaping tomorrow’s world of work. A Digital Readiness Survey 2020 by payroll, staffing, and recruitment agency Adecco Vietnam showed that Vietnamese employees are very optimistic about the impact of technology advancement on their careers. Almost half believe the digital era will bring more job opportunities and 42 per cent hope automation will help them reduce some manual tasks. Only a tiny 3 per cent is worried that robots will eventually take away their jobs.
To rate the importance of digital skills for better productivity and work performance, more than half of the respondents (52 per cent) value extremely highly the ability to use Microsoft Office more efficiently. Exactly half rate the adaptability to new technology and equipment to reduce manual workloads, and the same amount think virtual communication and collaboration are very important.
Far beyond such basic skills, 48 per cent of employers prefer the skill of storing and backing up data on the cloud, and/or via a backup drive in the next three years. Next comes the understanding of basic cybersecurity (43 per cent) and data-driven decision making (43 per cent), according to the survey.
Digitally ready for 4.0 era
Many organisations in Vietnam are also considering an approach to workplace digital optimisation beyond COVID-19. In fact, a number of big companies in Vietnam have made efforts to prepare digital skills for their workforce. FPT Group is one of the companies leading in human transformation. The company uses applications such as MyFSOFT, which is used by 15,000 employees, increasing internal cohesion and reducing rate of resignation.
Meanwhile, Grab has cooperated with Microsoft to implement a project to improve skills and disseminate technology knowledge for all Grab driver partners in Vietnam. The project includes a series of completely free online learning programmes at GrabAcademy on the partner’s driver app, providing partners with basic and necessary information about technology, effective internet use, and other digital skills.
According to Tieu Yen Trinh, CEO of HR consulting firm Talentnet, the commitment to reform and becoming an attractive destination after signing new-generation trade deals has offered Vietnam great potential for digital transformation. These trends have been gradually picked up and adopted by many big companies in Vietnam and lead to myriad impacts on human workforce as new business strategies require new ways of doing things and new strategies on human capital. Without appropriate investment in rejuvenating the workforce strategy, businesses can hardly ensure sustainable development in the future.
Thus, Trinh suggested that apart from continuously reskilling and upskilling the current workforce, companies could buy or borrow the talents whose capability is critical to their digitisation plan. Companies should be keen on investing for the transformation, making change needed for new structure of business and operation excellence.
“Also, business leaders should not be scared of the culture boost since a new way of working always goes with a new corporate culture. Last but not least, companies must make information of change visible, transparent, and accessible to all employees, with specific impacts on their life and work so that the employees do not feel left-out from the journey of adopting new technologies and new ways of working,” she added.
Integrating humans with tech
Amid unprecedented workforce disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations are enacting radically new ways of working and operating with a focus on human-centric strategies.
Deloitte’s 2021 Global Human Capital Trends report shows that executives are increasingly shifting away from the optimisation of automation and moving toward re-thinking how to best integrate humans and technology to complement each other and drive organisations forward. Over 60 per cent of executives say they plan to focus on reimagining work in the next 1-3 years, compared to only 29 per cent before the pandemic. COVID-19 has heightened leaders’ awareness of the potential benefits of this approach, including higher productivity, increased agility, and greater innovation.
Organisations utilised team structures to enable greater adaptability, which allowed them to better survive an unpredictable year. Leaders are increasingly recognising the value of “superteams”, combinations of people and technologies designed to leverage complementary capabilities and pursue outcomes at a speed and scale that would not otherwise be possible. Executives in this year’s survey recognised that the use of technology and people is not an “either-or” choice, but a “both-and” partnership, according to the report.
Industry 4.0 is still in its early stages in this country. Bizouard from Robert Walters Vietnam observed that companies in Vietnam are building new departments to handle the digital transformation and with such large changes, employees should be informed and aware of what is being done within the company. Companies should not only focus on the tech team but involve all functions including HR, operations, and finance and give them the opportunity to be part of the transformation.
“Some things that companies should start to do is evaluate employee skills and understand the skill sets they possess that could be a value add for the business. From there, companies should find any gaps that can be filled internally, whether through upskilling of their employees or internal rotations, or by hiring experts,” he added. “We also need to make sure there is full support from the management team who should be creating the right environment for change.”
Meanwhile, Colin Blackwell, chairman of the HR Committee of the Vietnam Business Forum, argued that the new labour code recognises modern work arrangements and especially employer’s responsibility to reskill employees. As technology becomes ever easier to use, so do the skills required become more of the “human” skills of creativity, lateral thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and persuasion. These common sense skills are best learned during childhood, so education should emphasise thinking over memorisation.
“We know from global studies that reskilling adults is more difficult than teaching children. Whilst it is a challenge, adult reskilling is essential to get right for the sake of companies remaining competitive,” he added.