|Many people in quite technical jobs have had to take up completely different roles in recent months. Photo: Ngoc Thang |
Tran Kim Lien, a former worker at an electronic component factory in the southern province of Binh Duong, changed her career to growing vegetables and taking care of poultry in the last two months.
Since the latest outbreak, Lien resigned from her job and returned to her hometown in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang. She did so because her reduced wage was not enough to sustain her but also because she was worried that she would be stuck in the city for a long time when social distancing was tightened.
She knew that she had to return to her hometown, but it remains unclear what she would do now. “My previous job mainly used machines. But there is no large factory in my hometown and I don’t have any other skills to apply for a new job, so I have to work as a farmer while waiting for the city to rid itself of the pandemic. Then, I will come back to find a new job,” she said.
Along with Lien, thousands of workers have lost their jobs and incomes since the latest wave of infections rolled over Ho Chi Minh City and other regions. The city’s blockade and factory closures have forced many workers to migrate thousands of kilometres back to their hometowns, leading to a shortage of unskilled labour in the large cities.
According to an assessment by the Department of Employment (DoE) under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), around 12.8 million people were negatively impacted by the pandemic in the second quarter, with 557,000 workers losing their jobs.
A quick survey on employment and income of more than 69,000 employees conducted by the Private Economic Development Research Board on August 1-5 showed that more than 42,700 workers lost their jobs because of COVID-19. Half of them had been unemployed for 1-3 months, and a quarter of them was in that situation for less than one month, with another 15 per cent been unemployed for more than half a year.
Nearly half of those who lost their jobs shared that they had to rely on support from family and relatives. Unable to find long-term employment in the current situation, workers switched to seasonal jobs such as online sales. Only a mere 1 per cent of the recently unemployed is hoping that their company will call them back soon.
Amid the current instability, temporary support solutions are to stabilise their lives through vocational training and job change support, so that they can soon return to the labour market. In addition to unemployment benefits, unemployed workers are also supported with free counselling, job introduction, and free vocational training according to the provisions of the Law on Employment.
However, such vocational training has not really attracted workers. “Some institutions are teaching occupations that are not suitable for recruitment needs. In addition, highly skilled people want to take classes equivalent to an intermediate or college level education, but these free training courses cannot meet their demand,” said Ngo Xuan Lieu, director of the National Service Employment Centre under the DoE.
Le Dinh Quang, deputy head of the Labour Relations Department under the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, said that the possibility of the labour market to recover in the last months of 2021 will depend mainly on pandemic control. Therefore, it would be necessary to survey the unemployment situation on a large scale to establish the opportunities for people to change their jobs and receive more appropriate support.
“In addition to collecting information, it is also important to make timely forecasts about the employment situation, thereby building suitable supply-demand connections to the new situation,” Quang commented.
To attract unemployed workers to vocational training institutions, the prime minister issued Decision No.17/2021/QD-TTg stipulating support for employees participating in unemployment insurance. For those taking courses less than three months, the support is calculated according to the vocational school tuition fee and actual study time and can reach a maximum of $195 per course.
For learners of courses between three and six months, the support level is calculated by month, tuition fee, and actual training time, but the maximum cannot be higher than $65 per month.
According to the assessment of the MoLISA, this division into two training packages is suitable to meet the needs of each person. The majority of unskilled workers want to return to the market in a short time, and the ministry expects that courses lasting for less than six months will meet the desire to change careers for those who want intensive training.
The MoLISA will also propose the government to spend a good $217 million from the Unemployment Insurance Fund retraining the workforce. It is expected that about one million workers will be retrained and certified in the near future.