HITT Vietnam is concerned with empowering workers who are employed informally in the tourism sector. The 2009 Labour Force Survey suggested that the informal sector was Vietnam’s biggest employer after agriculture, including over 11 million workers. Of these, only 15% have completed upper secondary education or better, 90% have no school certificate or vocational training, only 40% earn a wage, and job satisfaction is the lowest in any form of employment apart from agriculture.
While the advantages of working in the informal economy are often well-publicised – avoiding tax etc – there are also numerous downsides. Informal workers are often subjected to extremely heavy workloads, unsociable hours, ‘attached’ labour, unhealthy conditions, lack of skills and inability to access training, lack of formal written contracts that provide accountability, harassment and discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, gender, or locality, and fragile job security.
HITT Vietnam recognises the potential positive impacts of assisting informal workers in the tourism industry by providing them with vocational training. This training will enable local guides, homestay operators, and food & beverage sellers to succeed in delivering high quality services, leading to a higher disposable income for the worker and a better experience for the tourist. Empowered to take financial decisions they were previously unable to when just scraping by, the future of these workers will be defined by opportunity as oppose to poverty, exploitation and limitations.