Vietnam’s rapidly growing economy is set to become the 17th largest in the world by 2025 (according to Goldman Sachs) and the country has made dramatic inroads into poverty reduction – according to the Vietnam Ministry of Planning and Investment, the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day has decreased from 40% in 1993 to less than 5%  today.

VietnamHowever, it is still an agrarian society, with more than two thirds of the workforce involved in agriculture, fisheries and forestry. Rural youth unemployment is extremely high because of a lack of technical skills and vocational training. Only 2.4% of rural workers possess technical degrees and only 5% of young people from ethnic minorities have had vocational training.

The rapid expansion of the tourism sector has fuelled the development of related industries including agriculture, handicrafts and the services sector, creating a substantial number of jobs in the informal economy.

This growth and the poverty alleviation it can bring is being threatened by the shortage and quality of hospitality workers. Demand for receptionists, housekeeping and restaurant staff, and tour guides was estimated to grow to more than 1.2 million in 2012. If this trend continues, then 19 000 people need to be trained in tourism management and hospitality skills each year.

The multitude of unskilled or semi skilled informal workers in Vietnam’s tourism sector can usually expect no more than the lowest wages, while facing perpetual job insecurity and unregulated working conditions, with no workers’ rights.

HITT Vietnam is providing market-oriented vocational training to the most disadvantaged, in order that they might overcome such vulnerabilities and help to satisfy the increasing demand for skilled tourism workers.