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ILO: Vietnam needs better jobs

Released at: 18:06, 27/11/2019

ILO: Vietnam needs better jobs

Photo: Vneconomy

"Decent Work and the Sustainable Development Goals in Vietnam" report released by ILO on November 27.

by Nghi Do

Vietnam’s economy has been creating more medium-skilled and high-skilled jobs over the last decade, a new report from the International Labor Organization (ILO) released at the 2019 Vietnam Labor Forum on November 27 in Hanoi shows.

The forum was co-organized by the ILO and the Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MoLISA) as part of the ILO Centenary year.

“Decent Work and the Sustainable Development Goals in Vietnam” pointed out that average annual employment growth in Vietnam over the last decade has been concentrated on such jobs.

According to the current distribution of employment by skill level in Vietnam, more than a half (53 per cent) of jobs are medium-skilled and 12 per cent high skilled. The remainder (36 per cent) are low skilled.

“It is interesting to compare these proportions with upper middle-income countries, as joining this group is Vietnam’s objective by 2030,” said ILO Vietnam Labor Economist and co-author of the report, Ms. Valentina Barcucci.

On average, upper middle-income countries have a comparable share of low-skilled jobs (32 per cent), a smaller share of medium-skilled jobs (48 per cent), and a significantly higher share of high-skilled jobs (20 per cent, almost twice as large as Vietnam).

Vietnam has a remarkably active population, with workforce participation rates of over 70 per cent for women, against the global average of 48 per cent, and 81 per cent for men.

Employment in manufacturing has been growing remarkably, and since 2014 at a faster pace than in Southeast Asia and the Pacific as a whole.

“Vietnam does not need more jobs, but better jobs,” Ms. Barcucci said. “Unemployment and joblessness are very low. Rather, the quality of jobs is the challenge.”

Vulnerable employment has been a diminishing trend thanks to industrialization and the expansion of manufacturing employment, but still, in 2018, as many as 54 per cent of workers were in vulnerable employment. This type of employment most often comes without any protection and often with a very low income. Improving the quality of jobs in this part of the labor market needs to be a priority for Vietnam’s government if the country is to achieve its goals of socioeconomic modernization.

Speaking at the forum, ILO Vietnam Director, Mr. Chang-Hee Lee, said that today’s world of work is going through accelerated and disruptive changes, affecting the livelihoods of millions of working women and men, employers and workers alike. He identified key change factors as including technological innovation, as represented by Industry 4.0, increasingly interconnected global trade systems, an aging population, and climate change.

“To realize its ambition of becoming an upper middle-income country by 2030, Vietnam needs to conduct social upgrading in tandem with economic upgrading,” Mr. Chang said. “Fortunately, the country is taking bold and proper steps by upskilling its workforce, by extending coverage of social protection, and by modernizing its industrial relations institutions.”

According to Deputy Minister of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs, the adoption of the revised Labor Code is a milestone in Vietnam modernizing its labor laws in line with a socialist-oriented market economy and international integration. The newly-adopted Code is better aligned with the ILO’s fundamental conventions, including the remaining two conventions (on freedom of association and forced labor) Vietnam plans to ratify.

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