Vietnam Development Report 2014 - Skilling up Vietnam: Preparing the workforce for a modern market economy


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• A skilled workforce is central to Vietnam’s economic modernization.

- Over the past two decades, basic literacy and numeracy skills have helped Vietnamese workers move from low productivity agriculture into higher productivity non-farm jobs. This has promoted rapid economic growth and poverty reduction.

- Today, Vietnamese workers perform better in reading than workers in other countries, including wealthier ones. Looking ahead, continued strong economic growth will require increased labor productivity and a workforce with the skills to match the job market.

• Despite impressive literacy and numeracy achievements among Vietnamese workers, many Vietnamese firms report a shortage of workers with the right skills.

• The skills gap is particularly acute among applicants for jobs in technical, professional and managerial positions, while a shortage in applicants is common among more elementary occupations.

• Employers identify job-specific technical skills as the most important skill. But they are equally looking for cognitive skills, such as problem-solving and critical thinking, and behavioral skills, such as team work and communication.

• Cognitive and behavioral skills are formed in early years in life and continue through later stages. Technical skills are acquired later through technical and vocational education and training, higher education and on the job training.

RECOMMENDATIONS: A framework for strategic skills development in Vietnam

• Step 1: Promoting school readiness through early childhood development:

- Early childhood development for children aged 0-3: Promote breastfeeding and child stimulation; Provide social assistance and social work for poor parents to make better choices for their children.

- Preschool for children aged 3-5: Universalize access to full-day preschool; Translate modern and child-centered curriculum into quality provision, focused on building cognitive and behavioral skills, across all classrooms through upgrading of the competence of the current teaching workforce.

• Step 2: Building the cognitive and behavioral foundation in general education

- More schooling for all, with full-day instruction and expansion of access to secondary education.

- Better schooling for all, with a curriculum and teaching and assessment methods that foster the development of cognitive and behavioral skills in students.

- Schooling that involves parents and communities more

• Step 3: Building job-relevant technical skills through a more connected system between employers, students and universities, and vocational schools

- Better information:
More partnerships between businesses and universities and vocational training institutions provide better information on skills needed and available job opportunities

- Right incentives: Increase institutional autonomy for universities and vocational training institutions and strengthen mechanisms for their accountability for results;, define quality and occupational skills standards and assess and certify graduates.

- Adequate capacity: Invest in teacher training; strengthen leadership and management capacity in universities and vocational training institutions to exercise institutional autonomy; and provide scholarships for disadvantaged students.