“Take Nguyen Hieu Dong from Ha Tinh Province for example,” said one such executive.
Mr Dong had worked as a ship welder in the Republic of Korea (RoK), but now toils at odd jobs throughout the province to earn his daily bread. Upon return, he spent the better part of a year searching for a job as a welder, to no avail.
“I really want to work for a foreign-invested manufacturing company in the steel or sheet metal industry that would allow me to fully use the skills and experience I acquired when working in the RoK,” said Mr Dong recently.
Mr Dong is not alone, as friends of his returning from the RoK find themselves in similar circumstances. Most of them can’t find a job in their chosen profession either and must therefore work at odd jobs just to make ends meet.
“Then there is the case of Nguyen Bich Ha from Phu Tho Province who worked in the electronics field in Japan,” said the executive.
Miss Ha returned to Vietnam in 2015 and she too, like thousands of others in a similar predicament, has been unsuccessful in finding a fitting position.
“Every year roughly 100,000 guest workers go abroad,” said Nguyen Lan Huong, former head of the Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs in a recent interview with the media.
“Most of them, approximately 56%, find unskilled manual labourer jobs requiring only muscles and a strong back while the remainder find occupations requiring higher skills and advanced training,” said Mr Huong.
“The obstacles these skilled workers are encountering, is that when they return home after their assignment is up, they can’t find equivalent work that fully harnesses their skillsets and abilities.
Vietnam is sitting on an underused gold mine of diverse talent. As more and more foreign invested companies look to do business in Vietnam these guest workers are invaluable national assets, said Mr Huong.
Many skilled workers arrive home armed with an impressive résumé as a result of their overseas employment, said Mr Huong, only to learn that their foreign credentials are not needed by employers in Vietnam.
To avoid this rude awakening, we need governmental or non-governmental organizations to do pre-assessments on prospective guest workers so they will know before accepting the job if their education and work experience will transfer back to the local market.
"In other cases it’s because of the lack of an adequate job search mechanism to match prospective employers and adequately trained employees,” said Mr Huong. Many employees simply don’t know what jobs are out there.
In a vast number of situations, employers also don’t know how to connect with prospective employees and precisely the numbers and qualifications of employees seeking employment.
"There currently is no real way of fully knowing the biases employers have in the employment selection process,” said Mr Huong. “We do know that many employers shy away from hiring Vietnamese workers because of their deficient foreign language skills.”
When employment recruiters are asked to explain biases in hiring guest workers, they respond that foreign employers often treat guest workers as a sign that the applicant may lack critical language or social skills for the job.
The only sure way to ensure that guest workers talent is fully utilized for the benefit of the worker and the nation— is to set up a comprehensive national program to ensure guest workers are adequately trained in fields the economy needs and workers are chosen equitably.