As Southeast Asian nations are moving closer to the formation of a single market, labor experts urge Vietnam to quickly improve the quality and relevance of education to fill the rapid growth in employment.
Structural change under the ASEAN Economic Community, which will be introduced at the end of 2015, will drive heightened demand for different skills level, with medium-skill employment to increase the most, the International Labor Organization said in a new report.
Between 2010 and 2025, demand for medium-skill employment will increase by 28 percent, compared to 23 percent in low-skill employment and 13 per cent in high-skill jobs.
“With sound literacy basic education, Vietnam is well placed to meet the looming demand for low-skilled workers in the coming decades, but more needs to be done to prepare their workers for medium-skill employment,” said ILO Vietnam Director, Gyorgy Sziraczki.
Vietnam’s literacy rate is high, at 93 percent, and primary net enrollment rate is also up to 98 per cent.
In the Program for International Student Assessment, Vietnamese 15-year-old students scored higher than the OECD average in mathematics and science, indicating strong learning outcomes through lower secondary schools.
However, when it comes to practices, a World Bank survey of employers in 2014 identified gaps in job-related technical skills, as well as in cognitive skills such as problem solving and critical thinking, and core skills such as teamwork and communication.
“Skills gaps and mismatches still exist between the classroom and the workplace,” said the head of ILO Vietnam.
“So bridging the gaps and addressing future demands for skills by closer education, business cooperation and business participation in the development of skills standards and training curriculum are critical.”
Other recommendations made by the report to help Vietnam fill the medium-skill employment growth include aligning economic and workforce planning, certifying skills, and enhancing partnerships between education and training providers and the private sector.
With the projected expansion in the garment, construction and transportation sectors, a focus on developing specific vocational competencies along with promoting excellence in science and engineering would help Vietnam prepare its young people for the near future, said the report.