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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           16   August  2011

Vietnam discouraging unskilled labor

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The increasing number of foreigners coming to work in Viet Nam has forced the Vietnamese government to give more favourable conditions to highly qualified foreigners and minimize the use of manual workers.

Since 2008, nearly 21,400 foreign workers have been added to the workforce, according to figures from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) ‘s Department of Employment. Vietnam currently employs 74,000 workers from more than 60 countries, with 58 percent originating from Asia, according to the department's statistics.

The increase in foreign investment is one of the main reasons behind the rise in numbers of foreign workers, said the deputy director of Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) ‘s Employment Department, Le Quang Trung.

Another cause is the need for foreign workers in a number of new fields that require skills, experience and high technology.

In 2008 the record-high amount offering direct investment was US$64 billion. However, after a precipitous fall in 2009 to $21 billion because of the global recession, FDI began to steadily decline.

Still, Vietnam remains among one of Southeast Asia's top favourites for foreign investors, with a significant rebound in FDI inflows in 2010 and a continued recovery this year, according to the Business Monitor Online.

"With more Vietnamese FDI inflows, the development of new professional areas and technologies would continue, and hence the number of foreigners coming to work in Viet Nam would also continue to grow," said Trung.

In the meantime, the country will put a stop on groups of foreign employees with lower qualifications, particularly manual workers.

A large number of manual workers come to Viet Nam with their contractors, mostly for construction projects.

According to Trung, there are a number of foreigners working in Viet Nam without a work permit.

Since the adoption of the regulation that allows foreigners to work without a work permit if they are here for less than three months, companies and contractors have taken advantage of supposedly "untrained" workers.

Early this month, authorities in Da Nang said one-third of its total 600 foreign workers had no work permit, making it difficult for local authorities to ensure social order.

Trung told VnEconomy that only 500 of 2,400 foreigners working in northern Ninh Binh Province have a work permit. The remaining are working on contracts of fewer than three months, which do not require a work permit.

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