What is it? Fluency in a foreign language.
Translators and interpreters for tech jobs of the future are expected to be one of the fastest growing occupations in the nation, according to a just released survey by Vietnamworks.
Almost all positions for programmers, application developers, database and network administrators, engineers, designers, architects, scientists, technicians, and tech support will require bilingual or multilingual fluency.
In just the last two years the demand for tech professionals with foreign language skills has increased more than two and one-half fold, said the survey, and the uptick shows no signs of abating anytime soon.
Roughly 400,000 jobs are expected to open for interpreters (who focus on spoken language) and translators (who focus on written language) in the tech segment, between 2017 and 2020, says Tran Anh Tuan.
Tuan, who works for the Centre for Forecasting Manpower Needs and Labour Market Information in Ho Chi Minh City doesn’t include other industries in his prediction, which are also recruiting ferociously for more people with these same language skills.
While that claim might seem a bit overblown (and amounts to little more than a guess by Tuan), it is clear that innovative technologies like robotics, 3D printing, drones, artificial intelligence and virtual reality will create major upheavals in all sorts of labour markets, not just technology over the next few years.
In the last month alone, most every job posted on employment websites throughout Vietnam included the word bilingual.
Far higher salaries go to people who work in high tech positions and can speak a foreign language such as English in addition to Vietnamese, says Tran Quang Anh from the Posts and Telecommunications Institute of Technology.
Unfortunately, the surveys show that most graduating Vietnamese students are unable to do more than understand a few basic phrases of foreign languages, and practically none of them can speak any foreign language coherently.
The good paying jobs with high salaries and benefits are only available to translators and interpreters who specialize in high tech jobs, says Anh.
But it’s not just English— graduates are needed with fluency in middle eastern languages like Arabic, Farsi and Pashto (Afghani) as well as German, Japanese and Korean to name just a few.
Spanish is also in high demand in Vietnam, primarily because it is the second most common language in the US after English.
A recent tech expo in Hanoi sponsored by Vietnamworks and the Navigos Group attracted nearly 4,000 young tech graduates and recruiters from 14 leading companies looking to fill job vacancies with skilled bilingual workers.
The job applicants were young and industrious, said the recruiters.
However, missing were candidates with the requisite language skills and most lacked basic ‘soft skills’ such as written and verbal communication abilities to effectively communicate even in their native Vietnamese language.
Notably, the recruiters said they considered language abilities and soft skills just as, if not more important, than academic ability. Yet virtually all the prospective academically qualified employees lacked even the most basic of interpersonal communication abilities.