05 July 2017

Bridging the soft skill gap in today’s workforce

bridging the soft skill gap in today’s workforce hinh 0


In this context, quality higher education and training are crucially important if the Vietnamese economy is to move up the value chain beyond just developing simple production processes capable of fabricating low added value products, said speakers at a recent workshop in Hanoi.

The human capital of the country is an essential resource in achieving the envisaged development goals and transforming the economy into a modern manufacturing hub, said Nguyen Thi Quynh Phuong, director of Executive Search Services of Talentnet.

Thus, noted Ms Phuong, it is becoming increasingly important for the country to be equipped with new technological innovations and an educated workforce with market-oriented skills.

High-quality human resources with expertise in science and technology and a skilled labour force are a prerequisite for the country as a whole to compete globally.  Even lower-skilled jobs increasingly require more talent and knowledge.

As such, Ms Phuong added, vocational training and secondary education institutions need to prepare prospective employees for a complex, digital work environment.

Given this backdrop, the workshop explored several policy options to bridge the skill gaps to achieve the government’s stated objectives and overcome the major challenges that human resource departments face in catering to these emerging skill requirements.

She pointed out that there is not only a significant challenge in wrestling with the skills gap but there is the added difficulty in meeting the growing demand in the country for employees with good soft skills–especially English literacy and IT prowess.

Studies around the globe have universally shown that individuals competent in English have access to better quality jobs with higher salaries and benefits both in a country’s domestic labour market, as well as internationally.

Those studies consistently have shown that upwards of 80% of employers worldwide expect higher-skilled workers to have a good command of the English language and possess decent soft skills. 

Similarly, 75% of employers expect higher-skilled workers to possess adequate computer skills.

The expansion of higher education opportunities in Vietnam over the past decade has enabled many students, who would otherwise have studied abroad, to graduate locally at a considerably lower cost.

It also minimizes the cost to the country in what is commonly referred to as ‘brain drain’ as many students who choose to study overseas decide not to return to Vietnam because they can find higher paying more lucrative jobs elsewhere.  

However, policymakers must ensure that quality and standards of higher education institutions in Vietnam are not compromised, especially when it comes to teaching the English language and other soft skills.

Students who decide to continue their post-secondary education in Vietnam should receive the same rigorous training in these soft skills that their counterparts who choose to study abroad receive.

This can only be achieved through effective monitoring and control of private education providers and will of necessity require strengthening the regulatory mechanism of these institutes by incorporating new rules and regulations.

It is crucial, therefore, to identify desired standards of these institutions with respect to their student recruitment criteria, fee structure, academic programmes, quality assurance and accreditation among other things.

The country will never achieve the government’s vision of sustainable development by linking to global supply chains without fundamental change in soft skills of the country’s work forces and overcoming the inability to communicate proficiently in English.



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