Vietnam dreams of moving from outsourcing to making its own high-tech products
If Vietnam does not have reasonable policies to develop excellent technology engineers, its dream of building technology powerhouses will never be realized, experts say.
“Make in Vietnam” was the slogan repeated many times at the National Technology Firm Development Forum which took place on May 9. More than a slogan, it is the dream of becoming a powerhouse with a high number of powerful technology firms which can take the initiative in all phases of the production process, from creation and design to production and distribution.
“Vietnamese technology firms will ‘Make in Vietnam’. If we continue to just do assembling, we will never be able to settle the question about productivity and the middle-income trap,” said Minister of Information and Communication Nguyen Manh Hung at the event.
The most important factor Vietnam has to have in order to build technology firms is human resources. But that is what Vietnam is lacking now.
According to the founder and CTO of GotIt! Tran Viet Hung, Vietnam has a young, cheap and qualified workforce. Vietnamese work in many countries in the world and many of them are holding important positions at the world’s leading technology groups such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook.
Vietnam has a young, cheap and qualified workforce. Vietnamese work in many countries in the world and many of them are holding important positions at the world’s leading technology groups such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook.
However, Hung said Vietnamese engineers are now focusing on doing outsourcing rather than developing products. Vietnamese firms do not have products useful to foreigners.
“Excellent staff is a very important factor, vital to technology firms. If the firms don’t have good engineers, they won’t be able to do anything significant, even though they have big money,” Hung said.
Vietnam’s IT firms need a high number of engineers to implement projects outsourced to them by foreign partners. These are the engineers with moderate qualifications. University students can easily find jobs at outsourcing projects, so they don’t make efforts to upgrade to become excellent.
“That is why we lack good engineers,” Hung said. “If universities don’t have proper policies to produce excellent engineers, it would be better to give up the ‘make in Vietnam’ dream,” he said.
Sharing the same view, Ly Quoc Chinh, CTO of VNPT Technology, commented that Vietnamese technology engineers’ quality is ‘so-so’. The engineers with high qualifications are mostly in large firms such as Viettel, Vingroup and VNPT.
“Can we develop many hi-tech firms with such a labor force?” Chinh said. Without good staff, it will be difficult for Vietnam to master and utilize technologies, let alone create new technologies.
The latest report from TopDev – Vietnam IT Landscape 2019 – shows that technology firms are willing to pay VND500 million a year to one AI engineer, but it is still difficult to find suitable candidates in Vietnam.