With Industry 4.0 likely to replace people on production lines with machines to improve productivity, reduce labour costs as well as administrative cost, workers in all countries face a daunting challenge, economist Le Dang Doanh said on the sidelines of the forum held last week on co-operation between Vietnam and Japan for Asia-Pacific economic integration.
He said many Vietnamese companies had already started investing in automation, dismissing hundreds of workers.
About 86% of Vietnam’s apparel and footwear workers are expected to lose their jobs in the next 15 years, Doanh said.
Le Tien Truong, General Director of Vietnam Textile and Garment Group, said the textile and garment industry was using a lot of basic-skills labour, so it would be greatly affected by the Industry 4.0.
In the three main stages of the textile and garment industry, including making yarn, dyeing and garment-making, the yarn and dyeing stages are being automated and information technology used to increase productivity and reduce labour costs, he said.
The footwear industry in Vietnam is also facing a similar situation, said Nguyen Duc Thuan, Chairman of Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association. Therefore, companies should invest in new policies and train workers, he said.
The problem is that Vietnamese workers have to change their mindset and learn to do new jobs and be willing to taken on other work when they lose a job, he said.
Another Industry 4.0 challenge is that millions of workers losing their jobs need opportunities to learn, but at 35-40, it is not easy to acquire new knowledge and skills within the current educational system in the country, he added.
Doanh said that the State should come up with solutions to provide training in new kills for workers and create more job opportunities for them, Doanh said.
A representative of the Nguyen Tat Thanh University said that Industry 4.0 is posing many big challenges to Vietnam’s educational system.
Universities will have to revise their programmes to provide the skills and knowledge as also encourage innovative thinking and adaptability to changing work requirements, he said.