The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the fourth wave of the outbreak, as led to 1.3 million workers departing urban areas and moving to rural areas, from major economic hubs to provinces, in which over 600,000 migrant workers have returned home from various southern provinces.
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Currently, the number of workers returning to work has only hit 60% to 70% of demand from local businesses. In order to restore the broken labour chain, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) is devising two plans aimed at supplying trained workers as a means of ensuring the continued production and business activities of local enterprises in the post-COVID-19 period.
The risk of a labour shortage in some regions, sectors, and fields is posing a problem for businesses as they strive to restore production and business activities. According to figures given by the MoLISA, approximately 17.8% of enterprises face a labour shortage, with those involved in electronics at 55.6%, leather and footwear at 51.7%, garments at 49.2%, electrical equipment manufacturing at 44.5%, and textiles at 39.5%.
According to details given by Do Thi Thuy Huong, vice president of the Vietnam Supporting Industry Association, the nation is attracting many large enterprises in the electronics industry globally, with six of the biggest electronics firms having a presence within the country.
However, similar to other industrial enterprises, the electronics industry is facing up to the prospect of a labour shortage.
“More than 30% of local businesses are facing the labor shortage. This shows that the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the fourth pandemic wave, has greatly affected production activities of the electronics industry, particularly in 19 southern localities.
According to a report provided by enterprises in southern Vietnam, about 60 to 70% of workers have returned to production and they are seriously short of workers as they had returned to their hometowns and have not yet come back. Even the largest Samsung company in the high-tech zone in District 9, Ho Chi Minh City less than 70% of their workers have resumed work and the figure is expected to hit 100% by November, but for the time being, Samsung is also in a difficult position due to labor shortage,” Huong said.
Nguyen Van Be, chairman of the Association of Industrial Park Enterprises in Ho Chi Minh City, said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused 800 factories in various industrial parks to close. As a result of this, 700 factories run by most FDI enterprises have performed three on-site operations in a bid to avoid disruption in production, thereby resulting in their places being lost in the global supply chain.
Currently, businesses in Ho Chi Minh City have started to restore production, with numerous business in need of recruiting approximately 9,000 workers across various industries.
Enterprises operating in the processing and manufacturing industries have a significant need to recruit workers in order to meet orders ahead during the remaining months of the year. In a bid to restore the broken labour chain, Nguyen Van Be put forward the suggestion that there should be proper policies enforced aimed at bringing workers back to work as soon as possible.
Ho Chi Minh City features 18 export processing zones, industrial parks and high-tech zones, with more than 320,000 employees and 1,500 factories. At present 91% of businesses across 18 zones have since resumed operations in the new normal, which means living with the pandemic, while 70% or 200,000 employees have now returned to work.
Furthermore, an additional 100,000 are still in neighbouring or remote provinces. This comes amid all workers returning to Ho Chi Minh City being fully vaccinated and required to adapt themselves to new technology and digital transformation. However, plenty of businesses are facing financial difficulty and thereby require the support of the State.
It is therefore necessary to restore the labour market once the pandemic is fully brought under control, believes Vu Xuan Hung, director of the Training Department of the General Department of Vocational Education and Training under the MoLISA. He stated that to help enterprises gain access to labour resources in a timely manner, the General Department of Vocational Education and Training has devised plans to support firms in ensuring human resources.
“Currently, we have come up with two options to mobilise students’ participation in production and business activities of enterprises if there is a need. It also helps enhance the connection between schools and businesses, while creating conditions for students to become involved in production and business activities,” said Hung.
According to numerous experts, managers, and businesses, encouraging workers to return is a matter of policy. In order for enterprises to resume production, there should be a range of policies implemented specifically for migrant workers, social security, health care, pandemic prevention measures, adaptation, training, and retraining of human resources.