|There are hundreds of universities in Vietnam that cater to technical-based training for future digital jobs, Photo: Shutterstock
Stephanie Davis, vice president for Southeast Asia at Google Asia-Pacific, last week visited Hanoi to talk about Google’s partnership with the National Innovation Centre (NIC) and the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), in which two programmes will be launched, Google Career Certificates and Google for Startups: Startup Academy.
According to Davis, 20,000 scholarships from Google Career Certificates aim to help unlock new job opportunities for students without experience or degrees, while the Startup Academy allows making the most of Google’s resources and networks to promote the business progress of 50 Vietnamese startups through intensive training with professional mentors.
“The experience of previous programmes, such as the Google for Startups Accelerator, has supported small businesses and startups, as well as around 650,000 workers, she said.
The presentation from Davis attracted the attention of many individuals, tech corporations, and startups in Vietnam – all of which know how great the fluctuations in the labour have been in recent years.
Many businesses in Vietnam are approaching the needs of working, trading, and communicating with customers online. In 2021, according to MPI data, Vietnam recorded 5,600 new technology companies, leading to high demand for digital workers, such as in IT and data analytics. This shows the initiative and creativity of small businesses, but also touches on issues like the quality and quantity of digital human resources.
Tran Quoc Phuong - Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment
Vietnam’s innovation ecosystem is entering a critical stage, requiring a lot of investment and in-depth support to be able to develop innovative startups and form qualified human resources.
Vietnam is assessed to have suitable conditions to promote innovation. The Global Innovation Index by the World Intellectual Property Organization ranked Vietnam 44th out of 126 countries in 2021.
Vietnam has made great efforts to develop a national innovation system. The number of startups based on technology, intellectual property, and new business models has increased to nearly 4,000 businesses, with four of them being unicorns. Investment capital in new and advanced technology fields, including for innovative startups, has increased rapidly.
With the goal that the digital economy will contribute 30 per cent to GDP by 2030 as defined by the Socioeconomic Development Strategy 2021-2030, Vietnam needs to promote human resources, especially in domestic human resource training, to meet the needs of the economy in the digital era to solve the problem of high-quality human resources.
According to the National Committee for Digital Transformation, Vietnam has more than 240 universities, of which nearly 160 have majors in technical training, IT, telecoms, and information security. Every year, more than 50,000 students graduate, an increasing figure year by year.
However, Nguyen Trung Chinh, chairman of CMC Technology Group, in April said that universities would only meet about a quarter of the quantifiable demand and about 30 per cent of the necessary qualifications compared to the requirements of today’s technology corporations.
“The market will need 1.5 million digital workers by 2030. If Vietnam becomes a top production centre for the world’s largest technology corporations, the demand for digital human resources will be sky-high,” Chinh explained. Apple has already moved 11 factories in its supply chain to Vietnam, while many other enterprises such as Samsung, Foxconn, Luxshare, and Pegatron are also expanding their available scale in Vietnam.
Vietnam still has the advantage of labour costs in attracting investments in general, but it is difficult to recruit digital human resources. Pacific JSC, a company supplying telecoms equipment to the international market, in six months only recruited three new employees for its expansion. Director Dang Van Dam said, “We have failed to recruit personnel to operate the server system and connect international transactions, despite offering an attractive salary.”
The skilled labour challenge is also emerging in electronics. Vietnam, one of the world’s largest exporters of electronic goods, has seen its export value of such goods increasing. While accounting for one-third of the total export value of the country, the export value of the industry amounted to more than $108 billion in 2021, with an estimated workforce of over one million people.
According to the latest surveys by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the International Labour Organization at the end of June, about 60 per cent of enterprises in the electronics sector said that the shortage of skilled workers is a moderate to severe challenge. About half of them consider the technical skills of supervisors and managers to be a major challenge in recruitment.
The overall picture of the digital workforce in Vietnam may change when new factors are added. According to the General Statistics Office, the labour force aged 15 and above in the first quarter of 2022 in Vietnam numbered 51.2 million people, an increase of about 200,000 compared to the same period last year.
According to AlphaBeta’s report Unlocking Vietnam’s Digital Potential from October, if fully utilised, the digital transformation could bring an annual economic value of up to $74 billion for Vietnam by 2030.
Support for the digital transformation of local businesses
The MPI is supporting enterprises in digital transformation from through the integration and application of digital technology to improve production efficiency, capacity, and competitive advantage, as well as create new values for enterprises. This year, the MPI is deploying three packages to support businesses in digital transformation.
The Start Digital package is catered towards small-scale businesses and will be funded from the state budget by up to 50 per cent, but not exceeding VND20 million ($870) per year and per enterprise. The acceleration package called Grow Digital aims at growing businesses and supports these with a maximum of VND100 million ($4,350) per year and firm. Finally, the Go Digital-Go Global package is aimed at the global market and for businesses with export activities through digital platforms. They will be supported with up to 50 per cent of the costs of creating and maintaining accounts on the internet and for cross-border e-commerce platforms.
Google’s Southeast Asia 2021 Digital Economy Report asserts Vietnam as an attractive destination for startups as global capital continues to be invested in the market. The deal activity fuelled by investment interest in digital startups skyrocketed in the first half of 2021 and reached a record high of $1.37 billion, surpassing the total investment of the previous years.