Vietnam’s workplace productivity improved at an average of 6 per cent annually in the 2011-2020 period but Vietnamese workers still trail behind their regional peers, analysts have said.

Productivity rose from VND70.3 million ($2,830 in 2011 exchange rates) to VND171.8 million ($6,950 in 2021 exchange rates) each year in the 2011-2021 period and maintained annual growth of 6 per cent, exceeding the targeted 5 per cent, Deputy Head of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), Mr. Dang Duc Anh, told a workshop on accelerated workplace productivity for Vietnam’s sustainability on November 29.

But, he noted, Vietnam was still left behind compared to other countries in the region and the world. World Bank figures show that Vietnam’s workplace productivity reached $18,400 (in 2017 PPP), lower than India ($20,300), the Philippines ($21,300), and Malaysia ($55,800), and far below South Korea ($80,200) and Singapore ($162,600).

Mr. Nguyen Bich Lam, former Director General of the General Statistics Office, said labor quality is the most worrisome factor.

“For years, there has been no obvious change in Vietnam’s labor quality, which fails to serve economic development,” he said, citing figures from an employment report in 2021.

The proportion of the workforce receiving training at the “basic” level in 2021 was 26.1 per cent, an increase of only 0.8 percentage points over the previous year. Meanwhile, the proportion of informal workers, including those in the agricultural sector, was down only 1.8 percentage point from the previous year.

“We cannot improve productivity and accelerate creativity and innovation,” Mr. Lam said. “It is imperative for Vietnam to enhance productivity right now. If not, the situation will remain unchanged in the next five years.”

Improved workplace productivity is key to boosting Vietnam’s capacity to compete in regional and international markets, Mr. Anh said.

The fundamental policy framework for enhanced productivity was promulgated with various directions targeting the stabilization of the macro-economic situation, improved competitiveness and productivity based on enhanced technology, innovation, and digitization, and intensified labor quality, alongside specific polities facilitating the agriculture, industry, and service sectors.

“Nevertheless, asynchronous and insufficient institutions and policies have affected the implementation of solutions as well as coordination between relevant bodies and localities,” said Mr. Anh.

Mr. Lam said the realization of policies is the real reason hindering productivity improvements. No concrete actions have been seen since the introduction of the Prime Minister’s Directive No. 07/2020/CT-TTg in 2020, he said.

Therefore, it is necessary to form a committee on national workplace productivity, with members being specialists and representatives from relevant management bodies, enterprises, and especially trade unions.

In the latest move, the government has authorized the Ministry of Planning and Investment to develop and implement a National Labor Productivity Program under Resolution No. 01/NQ-CP released in 2022.