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Enhancing worker skills: A key point in digital transformation in Vietnam
13:33' 11/30/2022

It is not technology, but the skills of workers, that are the important keys to the question of labor and human resources in Vietnam in the digital transformation process - especially after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Editor's note: Responding to National Digital Transformation Day 10/10, VietNamNet Newspaper opens the section "Contributing ideas to Digital Transformation", contributing to spreading good experiences, good lessons, typical characters and stories of both the success and failure of agencies, organizations, localities, businesses as well as people in the journey of transforming operations to the digital environment.

VietNamNet would like to introduce the article by Mr. Nguyen Thanh Son, Chairman of MVV Entrepreneur Academy (the business school model that brings a variety of training solutions to businesses).

Questions from those who were "left behind" during the COVID-19 pandemic

1.4 million people - that is the number given by the General Statistics Office for the number of unemployed people in Vietnam in 2021. This number is larger than that of the same period in 2020 by up to one million people. The COVID-19 pandemic has come as a blow to all aspects of society, in which one of the most concerned topics is the workforce and the issue of employment. But this is not simply a matter of lack of demand.

In another study held at the same time, the General Statistics Office also said that the majority of underemployed people do not have technical training. The underemployment rate in the age of 2020 of workers without professional and technical qualifications is 2.87%; primary is 2.25%; intermediate level is 1.58%; college is 1.52%; from university or higher is 1.04%. That is, the phenomenon of underemployment in times of economic and social crisis is not simply a matter of job demand, but also a problem of workers' skills.

This is not a unique situation in Vietnam either. During the COVID-19 pandemic, in developed countries such as Australia and the UK, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the proportion of workers with low education and skills decreased by up to 40 %, while the proportion of skilled workers decreased by only 25%. Just like the virus of the pandemic has a global spread through just a sneeze, a runny nose, but the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions are the ones who suffer the most, so the "virus" of the labor crisis spread everywhere, but low-skilled workers will be the first "victims".

In another aspect, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has also made discourses on digital transformation increasingly interesting. According to a McKinsey report, only in July 2020, the percentage of products and services that were partially or fully digitized in the Asia Pacific region was 54%. For comparison, just eight months ago, in August 2019, this number was only 33%. It can be said that COVID-19 affects not only the labor industry, but the entire market to switch to a digital economy, working on a digital platform.

But even as digital transformation becomes a tool, and for many leaders, a goal for growth, there are still many people left behind. In many studies held in 2019 and 2020, especially the one commissioned by the European Commission on teleworking, low-skill workers are the most difficult ones to work remotely, as well as lacking the necessary skills to adapt to the digital working environment. At the same time, leaving the labor system, temporary unemployment is also a big reason for workers to gradually lose their inherent skills.

According to research from the University of California, Riverside, the decline in combined productivity (TFP) caused by skill loss during the lockdown contributes to nearly 50% of the productivity loss commonly seen in recessions.

These numbers show that digital transformation in many places is happening quite one way. It means that industries that are easy to digitalize will go first, and will also serve people who are already familiar with the digital environment first. While this is a natural trend in the flow of development, there is still an urgent need for new opportunities that are more diverse and more universal for all walks of life. The opportunity here is for new skills, as well as the opportunity to learn and be learned, to be adapted in a modern environment.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam's anti-epidemic motto has always been consistent: "Leave no one behind". I think this humanistic thinking is not only true in fighting the health pandemic, but is still necessary when it comes to labor and employment issues even after the pandemic. And in this respect, Vietnam needs new methods to enhance the skills of workers, creating a kind of "vaccine" against the next changes that the future brings. 

To do this, perhaps Vietnam should learn interesting lessons from Singapore.

Digital skills portal - Digital transformation creates opportunities


In fact, although connecting to the network is no longer too difficult, connecting to the network to actually participating in the digital transformation process, and especially creating a learning environment on the Internet- a true digital platform in Vietnam - is still a process that both the State and organizations and businesses are still struggling with.

In Vietnam, it is not necessarily that there are no digital transformation strategies before COVID-19. Resolution 52/NQ-TW in 2019 and Decision 749/QD-TTg in 2020 have made digital transformation a national action plan. According to a report by Cisco and IDC, if in 2019 there are still 22% of respondents who think digital transformation is not important to them, this number will only be 3% in 2020. That is enough to see how the need for digital transformation becomes a spearhead in times of crisis.

However, for employees, the benefits they enjoy from digital transformation are not many, especially in the process of learning new skills. Although Circular 33/2018/TT-BGDĐT has created regulations on distance learning and colleges, these are just decisions that pave the way to create a legal corridor on the digitization of education, but here just stop at formal school education. There is also the need to study and work outside the lecture hall, especially to hone skills in all aspects of society.

I think that to be able to bring skills to workers easily and synchronously, it requires the participation of both authorities and private organizations. Looking at Singapore, we can see that the SkillsFuture program "sponsored" by the Ministry of Education of this country has created impressive effects to spread skills and lifelong learning movement in this Southeast Asian island nation.

Digital transformation, new employee skills are the important key - Photo: Ngoc Minh


As its name suggests, Future Skills is an e-learning portal with courses and pathways on future skills open to all Singaporeans. Not only contributing to the training of new workers, the SkillsFuture program also encourages Singaporeans to make the right choices in education and career, and at the same time, develop an integrated education and training system that meets the ever-changing needs of in the labor market. In particular, Singapore citizens aged 25 and over can also access the Government's SkillsFuture credit package with a support of S$500 or more, to participate in skills development training on this portal. 

During COVID-19, this e-skills portal proves to be surprisingly effective. At the beginning of 2021, nearly 21% of respondents had participated in skills support programs that the Government had provided such as SkillsFuture in Singapore, more than that figure in 2020 is 4.4%. Also in 2021, about 660,000 people will receive support to study SkillsFuture. This is equivalent to a quarter of the country's total working-age citizens. That shows how high the need for learning really is in society.

Digital Transformation - Transforming People


Not only in Singapore, but also in the UK, The Skills Toolkit is also launched with the desire to help people become familiar and proficient with all skills in life, from CV writing to tax skills. to practicing medical emergencies or applied informatics…

The "common denominator" of skills education portals in the world is the synchronous participation of both the government and private businesses and organizations, with the desire to develop synchronously, creating new doors for the for workers. Those are the doors of opportunity, helping employees to be able to make their own decisions.

This is also a key point in the digital transformation process that many businesses and organizations seem to have overlooked in their development process. Digital transformation is, fundamentally, a human-related problem. The Harvard Business Review magazine said that the most important factor in the digital transformation process is not technology, but the skills of workers, and people must always be a prerequisite before developing technology.

Only when putting people, and people's skills, at the spearhead of development, can digital transformation really make sense and spread to all walks of life, helping the whole society, so that ultimately, digital transformation can still be achieved. Manifesto: "Leave no one behind".


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