ManpowerGroup optimistic about the future of work in Vietnam

January 31, 2018 | 10:07
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Vietnam’s demand for highly-skilled workers has been growing steadily, buoyed by increasing foreign investment inflow.

Simon Matthews, country manager of ManpowerGroup in Vietnam, Thailand, and the Middle East, spoke to VIR’s Bich Thuy about the company’s 10-year presence in Vietnam, and its new strategies for the market.

What are the highlights of ManpowerGroup’s operations in Vietnam since it established its offices in the country in 2008? Being present in 80 countries, how can the company bring its global value to Vietnam?

We are a world leader in innovative workforce solutions, having established our offices in Vietnam in 2008.

ManpowerGroup is the first 100 per cent foreign-invested firm in Vietnam’s human resources market, licensed by the government to provide outsourcing and sub-leasing services with two offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. We just celebrated our 10th anniversary last week.

As a multinational company, with a presence in 80 countries and territories, we apply the best practices and know-how of ManpowerGroup collected during our 70 years of operations around the world.

Over the past 10 years in Vietnam, we have been bringing meaningful jobs to thousands of locals and enabling our clients to succeed in a changing world of work. It’s very honourable. Without a job and earning money, people cannot achieve a good living standard.

We have been a long-term partner of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) since 2008, providing valuable advice concerning aspects of the labour market such as labour regulations, career transition, and more. Our business strategy is also almost the same worldwide. We have global experience and knowledge.

In Vietnam, we provide a complete range of services with the same service level, the same professionalism, and the same quality as we do in any of our other 80 countries. The only differences are languages and local laws.

As a global group, how has ManpowerGroup supported companies in Vietnam in increasing their competiveness with a high-quality workforce? Could you tell us some stories of success?

With global knowledge and expertise, we always innovate our workforce solutions to help companies find the right people for their organisation’s growth and success.

We also help them retain and develop their high-skilled workforce. We advise our clients to provide training programmes to help their current workforce continuously learn and develop in order to be able to succeed in a changing world of work.

ManpowerGroup Vietnam offers a complete range of solutions, from permanent recruitment and contracting to outsourcing, sub-leasing, career management, and talent management in various industries, for instance banking and finance, FMCG, IT and telecom, hospitality, and others.

We offer 360-degree human resources solutions or one-stop services, so clients can come to us for complete solutions. We also focus on training and development to share our best practices with our clients. MyPath is a good example of a training and development programme that are aimed to provide our associates with assessment, guidance, development, and education while following their career opportunities with ManpowerGroup.

Regarding our stories of success in Vietnam, we do have many stories to share, including one project that I am heavily involved in, namely Nghi Son Refinery and Petrochemical LLC (NSRP). It should be noted that there are not many oil refineries in Vietnam, so we do not have a lot of available people with the necessary skills.

However, we are very innovative in finding candidates for our clients, by working closely with technical colleges and bringing in people from other countries. As we are present in 80 countries, we can look for candidates in the Philippines, India, Europe, and other regions to bring in skills that are not available in Vietnam. We have also supported many manufacturing companies in Ho Chi Minh City. We helped them manage their workforce efficiently.

Amid stiffening competition from rivals, what has made ManpowerGroup stand out? What are ManpowerGroup’s new strategies for the local labour market?

We are planning to widen our footprint in the country. We want to develop many more solutions for businesses. By mid-2018, we’ll be moving to our new expanded office in Ho Chi Minh City, as our business is growing.

ManpowerGroup has been named one of the world’s most ethical companies for seven years running. We have a very good corporate social responsibility programme, and strong finances. We fully comply with and follow the local labour laws and we are a long-term partner of MoLISA. This is a big advantage for our clients when working with ManpowerGroup.

Vietnam is a candidate market, just like Thailand. Our clients come to us because we have a lot of channels for candidate attraction, like our website or our fan pages on social media, to help clients find the right people at the right time. Some of our clients in Thailand may comment that our services are a little bit slow, but ManpowerGroup can source very high-quality people for our clients.

We invest a lot of time in understanding our clients’ needs. We achieve very good matching, because it’s very important that our clients get the right people.

We also aim to develop a coordinated programme with the Employment Service to expand information channels on job opportunities for job seekers, for instance by organising regular job fairs at universities and training institutions to connect employers with job seekers.

We also aim to develop training projects to reskill and upskill the current workforce to ensure their employability and sustainable development in the era of Industry 4.0.

We are different from our competitors because we focus on three core values: people, knowledge, and innovation. We help people develop their careers through planning, working, coaching, and training. We share our knowledge, our expertise, and our resources so everyone understands what is important in the labour market now, what is happening next, and how to respond.

Also importantly, we actively pursue the development and adoption of best practices worldwide. We dare to innovate, to pioneer, and to evolve.

What are your forecasts for the labour demands of domestic and foreign investors in Vietnam in 2018? Which sectors will attract most labour?

With its high GDP growth, the Vietnamese market is fantastic. A lot of foreign investors are coming in, and a lot of projects are expanding. Thus, the demand for high-quality labour will continue to increase. According to ManpowerGroup’s latest “Talent Shortage Survey”, the skills that are hardest to find are in skilled trades, IT, sales representation, engineering, technicians, accounting and finance, management, production and machine operations, and office support.

In Vietnam, we find that many hot sectors are attracting the workforce, including manufacturing, engineering, and retail. Recruitment in Vietnam is currently most active in sales, marketing, and technicians.

Sales (FMCG and technical) positions are relatively difficult to recruit because both sales skills and technical knowledge are required. The local labour market has many positives, namely a competitive-cost workforce, high technology application, and an increase in foreign investment. However, it faces many challenges.

Skill availability is a big challenge at the moment. Vietnam needs to work on efficient productivity.

At the moment, the cost of labour is still reasonable and competitive. However, if salaries continue to increase annually by 6-8 per cent, and the country does not improve productivity, it will not stay competitive.

Looking at the Total Workforce Index (TWI) published by ManpowerGroup, Vietnam is still ranked quite low. The local workforce also lacks many necessary skills like problem solving and IT, not to mention foreign language skills and adaptability. Moreover, innovation and creativity of the local skilled workforce is still low.

According to ManpowerGroup TWI, the estimated percentage of workforce with a working English proficiency is only 5 per cent. Therefore, Vietnam needs to develop language skills for its workforce, especially in English.

The Philippines’ and India’s workforces are very strong in the service industry. It does not mean that Indian or Philippine labour is better than Vietnamese labour, just that their English skills are much better. Thus, many global companies want to build their service centres there. So why can’t Vietnam develop that?

That being said, we are very optimistic about the future of work in Vietnam. For example, Vietnam should invest in developing the IT industry. Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc mentioned his vision for Vietnam to become one of the three top IT countries globally at the World Economic Forum last year.

According to our TWI, the average monthly salary is about $220, compared to $2,648 per month in the region. Vietnam’s labour market efficiency is not too low compared to the region, namely 4.33 per cent compared to 4.38 per cent in the region.

Technical readiness in commerce reached 3.51 per cent compared to 4.92 per cent in the region.

This means Vietnam is still a country with competitive labour costs among the Asia Pacific countries, keeping it attractive for foreign companies wishing to invest.

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