“Enhancing the scale and quality of vocational education and training (VET) is the key to economic development and the involvement of the business sector is the decisive factor to do so”, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc affirmed at the National Forum “Skilling Up Vietnam” in Hanoi on November 16, 2019. So far, this is the biggest forum on a skilled workforce that was co-organised by the Ministry of Labour Invalids and Social Affairs, Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and relevant ministries.
The changing context requires VET to be practical and relevant
In 2019, the quality of Viet Nam’s VET system climbed 13 places, while the country’s global competitiveness index moved up 10 places to rank 67th among 141 economies. In the VET sector, 130 key occupations and 40 key VET institutes have been identified. On average, 85% of all VET trainees find jobs after graduation. These encouraging signals show that Viet Nam’s VET system is right on track. However, there are still many obstacles. The skilled workforce represents only 22% of all labour. One of the reasons is that certain inconsistencies remain in the VET system and that the quality of training is not meeting the needs of the business sector.
Especially, as new technologies are continuously changing our lives , the training of the labour force needs to be adaptive and practice relevant. Therefore, “the involvement of enterprises in VET is essential to avoid the waste of resources and to ensure the training effectiveness. Thus, the collaborating enterprises will have a practical contribution in the training’s content and process”, said Ms Nguyen Thanh Ha, CEO of VietjetAir.
Enterprises engaging in the reform and improvement of VET
“The VET system will only undergo a strong transformation process if the private sector takes the lead”, Mr. Vu Tien Loc, CEO of Viet Nam’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry stated. According to him, to improve the quality of training, enterprises have to collaborate with VET institutes regarding five main activities: investment, placing orders, training, assessment and recruitment.
Experiences from developed countries show that the involvement of the business sector is the key feature to improve VET. For instance, in Germany, both the State and the private sector share responsibility in training the labour force. German trainees spend 30% of the training period learning theories at TVET schools and 70% acquiring practical skills at enterprises. The business sector is involved in all training phases from developing occupational standards and training programmes to the implementation and assessment. Dr Juergen Hartwig, Director of the Vietnamese-German Programme “Reform of TVET in Viet Nam”, reported that the cooperative vocational training programme, with lessons learnt from the German dual system, has been successfully implemented in Ho Chi Minh College of Technology (HVCT) and LILAMA2 International College of Technology. The piloting classes proved that the participation of the business sector in VET is necessary and effective.
Dr Hartwig also recommended two solutions for Viet Nam to ensure the practice orientation of VET. Firstly, he emphasised the importance of in-company trainers as key feature for high-quality and demand oriented training. In-company trainers are skilled workers, lead technicians, supervisors or managers from enterprises who are trained to have pedagogic and didactical skills and certified to provide in-company training. Secondly, advisory boards at TVET institutes’, sectoral and national levels are concrete mechanisms for the business sector to be part of all VET phases from policy advisory, developing training standards and programmes to training implementation, assessment and certification. Recently, MoLISA has approved the establishment of the Vietnamese Logistics Industry Reference Council as recommended by the Australian Government and Agriculture Industry Advisory Council that was endorsed by ILO. This model should be implemented in many sectors. There should also be a national multi-stakeholder mechanism that provides policy advice and fulfills a coordination function.
Enhance the role of the tri-parties (State-School-Business) in the orientation and promotion of VET
Speaking at the Forum, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc assured the importance of the trio- parties (State-School-Business) in the orientation and promotion of VET, in which the business sector plays the key role. The Prime Minister highly appreciated opinions and experiences shared by delegates. MoLISA and relevant ministries will use the valuable inputs to draft and submit to the Government a Directive on the development of a skilled workforce.
Lastly, the Prime Minister emphasised that Viet Nam’s VET system should ensure three orientation principles:
1. Meet the practical needs of the market; ensure the harmony between supply and demand for skilled labour; promote a close relationship between VET institutes and enterprises through favorable policies to encourage the involvement of the business sector.
2. Improve VET according to international standards to meet the high requirements of enterprises inside and outside Viet Nam.
3. Improve forecasting offuture market requirements for high skilled workers to orient the cooperation between the VET institutes and the enterprises.
The National Forum closed with a symbolic ritual showing a strong joint commitment to enhance skill development in Viet Nam. This opens a new page for a tri-party (State-School-Business) cooperation to skill up the Vietnamese workforce and to boost the country’s global competitiveness.