US Funds to Promote IT Workforce Development in Vietnam

The support focuses on capacity building for civil servants and connecting Vietnamese agencies in human resource development, thereby providing advanced training and effective retraining of human resources for innovation.
Experts join the online conference to launch the Vietnam Workforce for an Innovation and Start-up Ecosystem (WISE) in Hanoi yesterday. Photo: VNS
Experts join the online conference to launch the Vietnam Workforce for an Innovation and Start-up Ecosystem (WISE) in Hanoi yesterday. Photo: VNS

Vietnam needs advanced training and retraining for human resources to meet the demand of the economy in the digital era, and adapting to the post-Covid-19 "new normal", said Nguyen Duy Dong, deputy minister of Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI).

Dong told an online conference on high-quality human resources, held by the ministry and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) yesterday, that: “Technological advances are to improve labour productivity, efficiency and enhance the new competitive advantage of the economy.”

He said the country ranked 44th out of 132 countries and economies in the world in the list of Global Innovation Index (GII) in 2021 published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), saying: “In the complicated developments of the Covid-19 pandemic with unpredictable impacts, that Vietnam remains in the top 50 leading countries is a huge effort.”

Seeing the demand for workforce, USAID has funded an initiative worth US$2 million that would support Vietnam’s National Fourth Industrial Revolution Strategy to advance continued economic transformation in two years as a project called Vietnam Workforce for an Innovation and Start-up Ecosystem (WISE).

Launching the project at the online conference, Vietnam Mission Director Ann Marie Yastishock of USAID said: “After decades as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, Vietnam’s industry and services sectors are entering a new phase of growth propelled by the brainpower of an expanding young workforce.”

She said the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) was creating immense opportunities and challenges for upskilling and reskilling the workforce to take advantage of new technologies, adding COVID-19 has accelerated the movement to digital businesses and transformation, making it even more imperative to retool workers for the digital economy and the new normal.

Also taking part in the conference, Vu Duy Thuc, Co-Founder and CEO OhmniLabs, a leading service robotics developer focused on improving people's quality of life in Silicon Valley, said: “Vietnam has about 400,000 engineers including 10 per cent that need to learn AI and only 4,000 could do it."

Thức said: “Vietnam can become one of the AI ​​centers, if we have 100,000 AI engineers, that will generate US$100 billion. We will create AI technologies that are used in many different fields.”

However, he also noted: “The opportunity is only in two or three years, then countries with AI policies will go very far,” adding: “If Vietnam is not taking advantage at this time, we will go backwards and lose out to competitors of China and India.”

Thuc also mentioned his VietAI Firm, aiming to put Vietnam on the world AI map, connecting the local AI community to the world.

Training more than 600 AI engineers in Vietnam, Thức said the firm would offer free courses for the community.

Meanwhile, Tran Trung Hieu, Founder and CEO of TopCV, a human resource firm, said the pandemic created a remote trend that international firms recruit high-quality Vietnamese personnel to work from Việt Nam, but he added: “There are many technology graduates, but the number of students who are really suitable for the job is low.”

In this case, Ann Marie Yastishock said: “WISE showcases the US Government’s commitment to partnering with Việt Nam along with its economic transformation, and will help advance this strategy, which centers on mastering and integrating new advanced technologies, spurring innovation, and accelerating the growth of the digital economy.”

She said WISE would support scalable, market-driven, and sustainable models to prepare Việt Nam’s workers for 4IR via partnerships with the private sector, adding the project would build basic digital literacy, provide 4IR career pathways information to make smart talent investments, provide information and communication technologies, upskilling/reskilling for lifelong learning, and explore innovative financing mechanisms for 4IR skills acquisition.

According to the project, it will build the capacity for the MPI’s National Innovation Center (NIC) as the key local partner for WISE and associated government agencies in human resource development to enable them to work effectively on upskilling and reskilling the workforce for innovation.

As Ann Marie Yastishock considered opportunities have not been equally accessible yet as most jobs in new technologies and technical fields were based in the main metropolitan areas, and women make up only about less than 10 per cent of IT workforce, WISE will support Vietnam’s efforts to emphasize 4IR skills development opportunities to all demographics by devoting special focus on women and vulnerable groups to help narrow the country’s digital divide.

WISE said the priority was consistent with the USAID Digital Strategy and would deliver long-term impacts in Vietnam through an information and communication technology sector that features leaders, coders, designers, and technicians that advance the use and development of 4IR as it takes root across Vietnam’s economy.

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