“Soft skills have failed to live up to the demands of the information technology (IT) industry.” said employers and educators at a recent Information & Communication Technology (ICT) Summit held in Ho Chi Minh City.
According to research by FPT Software, managers have an overall negative view of young Vietnamese workers, and point to their lack of communication and interpersonal interactions, time management abilities and willingness to work as a team.
“The government and educators simply have not paid sufficient attention in the education process to supporting the development of soft skills and meeting the needs of the profession,” said Hoang Nam Tien, chairman of FPT.
Our research indicates that the nation’s colleges and universities graduate roughly 32,000 young IT professionals each year but only 25% or 9,000 of them show a level of professionalism that is adequate to compete in today’s world.
The situation is even more dismal when it comes to graduates with foreign language skills, Tien said with less than 10% (or only about 3,000 of the graduates) demonstrating suitable competence in a foreign language such as Japanese or English.
Tien underscored the need for the nation collectively to ‘re-evaluate’ the current situation because of the critical shortage of capably trained personnel and the significant importance it plays to the economic growth of the IT industry.
Soft skills are vitally important to our business and the ability to readily communicate complex ideas and concepts with customers and co-workers directly affects our bottom line profits, Tien said.
Truong Gia Binh, Vietnam Software Association (VINASA) President in turn said he couldn’t agree more with Tien’s views and added many Japanese firms have lodged complaints with the association regarding the issue.
In particular, many Japanese firms are in such dire need for qualified professionals and they are willing to pay double or triple the going rate for highly qualified young graduates, Binh stressed.
One solution proposed by Tien is for Vietnam universities to bring in Japanese lecturers and professors to teach classes or in the alternative send Vietnamese students to Japan to study.
Admittedly, these skills are hard to teach in a classroom setting, and tend to come with office-like experience whether it’s from an internship, volunteer work, participating in student organizations or part-time jobs.
So ideally, the training needs to be flexible with more apprenticeship and internship programs along with out of classroom activities at the top of the list for consideration, Tien suggested.
Phan Thanh Binh, president of Vietnam National University also agreed with Tien’s comments and suggestions and said there is a high correlation between graduates with proficient soft skills and career success.
These skills are what enable people with different skills sets and personality that make up an organization to work effectively together and without friction.
They are fundamentally essential, said Binh.