Fourth Industrial Revolution threatening Vietnamese labourers

10:51 | 02/11/2018

Vietnam’s workforce is largely composed of untrained labourers whose jobs might be threatened by the approaching Fourth Industrial Revolution.

fourth industrial revolution threatening vietnamese labourers
A large number of experts and members of authorities attended the forum

Speaking at the forum titled “Vietnam’s employment, wages, and labour productivity in the context of Industry 4.0” organised by the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s (MPI) National Centre for Socioeconomic Information and Forecast on October 31, 2018, Vu Quang Tho, director of the Vietnam General Confederation’s Institute of Workers and Trade Unions, said that Industry 4.0 will change every field of employment, from banking, commerce, and telecommunication to education, agriculture, and electronics.

“Low-skilled jobs will be done by machinery, and even average-skilled employees can be replaced by artificial intelligence,” Tho said, adding that creativity is the key to give Vietnam’s workforce the confidence to approach Industry 4.0.

Several major issues, including the position of and demand for untrained labour in Vietnam, forecasts about the impacts of Industry 4.0 on the labour market, and suggestions on completing social welfare policies in Vietnam were highlighted at the forum.

Accordingly, Industry 4.0 refers to breakthrough technology innovations including robotics, artificial intelligence, automations, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and self-driving cars, which are supposed to have higher productivity and make great contributions to aiding employees and handling human jobs. On the other hand, Industry 4.0 will rapidly affect the society and the economy, as well as the labour market in Vietnam.

Nguyen Van Thuat, deputy editor of the Socioeconomic Information and Forecast Review, said that Vietnam has abundant labour force, however, 77 per cent (43 million workers) are untrained labourers. In addition, workers also lack “soft skills,” including communication, teamwork, and time-management skills.

“The shortage of soft skills is more serious than the lack of specialist skills, since labourers can be technically trained at their workplace, but it takes a long time to learn soft skills,” said Thuat.

As Industry 4.0 popularises automation and hi-technology, the structure and position of Vietnam’s labour market will definitely be altered. Specifically, the number of untrained labourers will reduce as employees with better potential will be upskilled.

Addressing social welfare, which is a principal issue in any country, director Bui Van Huyen of the Institute of Economics (Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics) said that in addition to providing employees with job opportunities, Industry 4.0 will also incite countries to complete education policies and increase social welfare coverage.

“Industry 4.0 will introduce a new industry platform, which is going to bring about brand-new employment opportunities. In these new circumstances, well-trained employees are guaranteed employment, while unskilled labourers needs to be given access to self-training to adapt to the technological revolution. This will help reduce the financial burden on the government. In addition, once people’s jobs are ensured, they no longer have to rely on government subvention, and can contribute by paying social security and health insurance,” Huyen added.

Moreover, with the development of technology, employees can better research and understand what social welfare policies apply to them, it will also be easier for authorities to administer employees’ social welfare benefits. Correspondingly, Industry 4.0 will contributes to the formulation and supervision of social welfare policies in a more systemic and modern way.

Industry 4.0 will open a plethora of new job opportunities, however, only those with the requisite skills will be allowed access to them, while the less skilled majority may find it harder to cope. To lessen the negative impacts of Industry 4.0 or even turn labour force into an advantage, Vietnam needs to improve the quality of education and training, building out a creative labour market with high intellectual standards.

Thanh Mai

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