Boot is on the other foot as demand for workers plummets

By Bao Van, Thanh Nien News

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After the Lunar New Year Tet, Nguyen Thi Ha returned from her native Hai Duong Province to Hanoi, where she had lost her job in a garment factory late last year, to look for a new job.

A small number of job notices, that too only for male workers, in factories in the Quang Minh Industrial Park left the 24-year-old dejected.

“It has never been as difficult as now to find jobs,” she said.

“Most factories have no demand for new workers.”

The situation is in stark contrast to a few years ago when job vacancies were posted everywhere – on company gates, trees, and electric poles - in Hanoi’s industrial parks.

Nguyen Anh Tu, director of Truong Kieu Company, a machine producer in the industrial park, said his firm has had no need for new workers since it reopened after Tet early this month since its workers, mainly from neighboring provinces, had returned to work.

“We do not face a scarcity of workers unlike a few years ago. No workers have quit their jobs,” he said.

“We do not plan to expand production this year considering the economy has not recovered.”

 Like Truong Kieu, most other firms in Quang Minh, Thang Long, and Sai Dong parks are not looking for more manual workers.

According to a spokesperson for the Hanoi Labor Union, 98 percent of workers in the city’s industrial parks have returned to work after Tet.

 “The economic situation remains difficult this year, and so firms have no great demand for workers. The number of workers quitting their jobs after [returning home for] Tet has also decreased compared to a few years ago due to the concern about finding new jobs.”

Until three years ago turnover was massive since companies hade a large demand for workers to expand their business, and so workers would quit a job and find another one with better salaries and working conditions.

Electronics, woodwork, and garment companies especially hired workers by the thousands.

But late last week, at a transaction floor of the Hanoi Job Recommendation Center, only 43 firms took part with a demand for 751 workers.

The overall demand has decreased some 40 percent over the average that of last year. The situation in Ho Chi Minh City is no better.

Tran Anh Tuan, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Forecasting Manpower Needs and Labor Market Information, said city companies are expected to face only a 5 percent labor shortage in February and March.

Nguyen Van An of Hanoi’s Thuong Tin District recently found a job at a garment firm. “I am much luckier than many other workers who cannot get jobs though my salary is low, enough only for two weeks [in a month],” he said.

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