Vietnam has created a range of incentives to attract overseas Vietnamese and talented foreign scientists and technicians.
On November 10, the Vietnamese government will begin offering overseas Vietnamese and foreign professionals in the field of science and technology (as well as their family members) two-year temporary resident cards.
Those professionals who have been awarded medals or titles by the Vietnamese state and those in possession of temporary resident cards will be considered permanent residents.
Rather than entering the agencies at the lowest-level of seniority (and corresponding remuneration) Vietnamese and foreign professionals will be assigned managerial titles at scientific and technology agencies and paid “negotiated salaries,” the decree said.
Foreign talents will also receive support in obtaining work permits through simplified procedures while their spouses and children will be assisted in seeking out jobs and schools.
Foreign experts at a construction site in Vietnam. Photo: Diep Duc Minh
Agencies that hire overseas Vietnamese and foreign professionals are asked to support them in seeking accommodation.
Overseas Vietnamese and foreign talents will be eligible for the aforementioned incentives if they meet one of the following requirements:
- Have patented inventions (for example, new plant varieties) which can be employed in Vietnam.
- Have produced exemplary scientific or technological research which can be applied in Vietnam.
- Have a doctorate degree and have taught or worked in the science and technology sector for a prestigious agency in a foreign country.
- Have a doctorate degree and have conducted research for more than three years on international cooperation projects or at prestigious companies in foreign countries.
In 2004, Vietnam issued a resolution aimed at drawing overseas Vietnamese home to support development in every sector.
The resolution succeeded in pulling in remittances and investment from overseas Vietnamese, but failed to woo academics back to the country.
Those who do return often leave again, after complaining that their work has been hindered by red tape, excessive administrative oversight, and poor working conditions.
At home, analysts blame rigid hierarchies at government agencies and institutions for discouraging and demoralizing high-caliber graduates.
According to the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese, of the 4.5 million Vietnamese living around the world, 400,000 have a bachelor's degree or higher.
However only roughly 1,000 have returned to Vietnam to work.
"Some important government agencies have bizarre regulations reflecting very conservative, outmoded perceptions that contribute nothing to the minimal basic conditions scientists require," Hoang Tuy, a prominent Vietnamese educator, wrote several years ago.
He cited the example of a professor's hourly salary being determined by his rank within the bureaucracy. On the government salary scale, the most senior professor is paid less than a medium-level bureaucrat.
This is expected to change in the near future thanks to a new package of incentives, including “negotiated salaries.”