Employers should insist their workers speak English

VOV.VN - The Prime Minister’s decision to create an industry-driven workforce development task force couldn’t have come at a more critical time, said Vu Hong Dan from the Vietnam National Productivity Institute.

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The task force at the Institute began meeting earlier this year and recently released a report along with recommendations aimed at strengthening the collaboration between industry, education and the government to develop a robust, skilled workforce that meets employer needs, creates better-paying jobs and improves the economy.

Mr Dan, a task force member, has long been involved in the country’s efforts to strengthen its labour force.

We have been attempting for several years to get more industry involvement because there is no reason to do workforce training if you don’t have employers involved, said Mr Dan.

With increasing regional integration compounded by an aging population, it becomes vitally important that we find more effective ways to get young people into the workforce and trained to assume positions of leadership.

Without successful initiatives and sustainable funding for them, the number of workers needed to fill the jobs will dwindle, Mr Dan said. He noted that in some segments of the economy, skilled worker shortages are already inhibiting economic development.

And it could get worse, if remedial action isn’t undertaken promptly.

If an adequate workforce is not available, multinational corporations will opt to bypass Vietnam and expand their businesses in other countries. The negative ramifications of this will be magnified as Vietnamese workers with the right skill sets, relocate to other countries to access high quality jobs.

The result will be a local economy that suffers from a lack of high-paying jobs, loss of workers and corresponding decrease in the vivacity of the community and the domestic economy.

Nguyen Thi Quynh Phuong from Talentnet Company, a leading human resource consulting firm in Vietnam, noted that foreign language skills among the workforce are exceptionally poor and put Vietnamese workers at a competitive disadvantage.

However, Ms Phuong made clear that the national need for fluency in foreign languages, most especially English, the international language of business, goes far beyond the competitiveness of individuals or companies in the regional economy.

The ability to understand the languages and cultures of other countries holds – non-market value – for society and for intercultural relations both at home and abroad, she underscored.

Language study is intellectually and culturally beneficial for workers in its own right and language should be seen both as an object of study and a means of accessing knowledge in other fields.

Most notably, numerous studies around the globe highlight the fact that foreign language skills force workers to be more deliberative in their decision making, which results in better decisions.

Nowhere can the need for workers to speak English be clearer than in the hospitality and tourism industries.

Effective oral and written English communication skills are of prime importance in these industries, as guest satisfaction is the key driver to both top line revenue and bottom line earnings.

Employees in these segments must develop the necessary English communication skills to fulfil tourist requirements or these industries in Vietnam will never develop on an international scale beyond the current appeal to backpackers and other low budget travellers.

Duc Giang

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