Thursday, July 15, 2010

Where are the workers hiding?

Jul 14th, 2010

Vietnam does not lack labourers, but companies often complain that they cannot recruit enough workers to fulfill their needs.

Living and working near families, having a stable income and low expenses – all these factors have persuaded many to stay in their home provinces rather than head to big cities.

Rural areas benefit from this phenomenon, since many are trying to develop industries. Yet even firms in the provinces lament the lack of workers.

Hoa Phu Industrial Zone has attracted more than 10,000 workers, while the labour demand from garment, footwear and fine art companies there is still very big, especially when the second phase of the industrial zone opens. Co Chien and Binh Minh Industrial Zones also desperately need employees at present.

The labour shortage has hit businesses hard, because they cannot accept new orders or expand production.

Ty Xuan Company, for example, has been calling to recruit 3000-5000 workers over the last two years. Nguyen Viet Trung, Deputy Director of Ty Xuan Company, admitted that they have sought to find workers through different sources, but the number of those employed is equal to 1/3 of their total demand.

Le Thi Binh, another deputy director at the company, explained that they once recruited 9000 workers for the highest production peak, but now they have only 8000 workers. Meanwhile, the project needs another 35,000-40,000 labourers.

She added that the firm cannot dare to go ahead with the second phase of the project with this level of labour shortage.

Ty Xuan Company is not alone. The labour problem has become so serious that many meetings of businesses and provincial authorities have been held to discuss solutions. Still, no considerable improvement has been made.

Ho Thi Tham, Deputy Chair of the Vinh Long Pottery Association, remarked that pottery factories do not lack orders, but they need more workers. She noted that many pottery kilns are not operating because of the dearth in employees.

To cope with the shortage, Ty Xuan set up a workshop in Dong Thap province near worker homes, where shoe caps are made and then transferred to Vinh Long for completion. Ty Xuan knows that a Dong Thap workshop means higher expenses, but the company has no other choice.

Many other companies must do the same. Nguyen Minh Tue, Director of Vinh Tien Garment Company, previously decided to invest in a Vinh Long workshop. He could not imagine that a labour shortage would occur. “If we cannot find any other solutions, we must relocate the workshop to another location near labour sources,” he admitted.

If the labour supply is extensive, but businesses cannot recruit workers, wherein lies the fault?

Huynh Kim Hoang, Head of the Vinh Long Job Centre, reasoned that demand and supply still ‘cannot meet each other’. A lot of workers demand stable jobs, regular promotions and high salaries, but they do not have knowledge and experience.

Meanwhile, many enterprises set up overly-high requirements for employees. For example, a ticket seller is required to finish high school, speak English and possess computer skills, and yet it’s a job that a secondary school graduate can do.

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