‘Viet Nam is at a crossroads’

How training based on the German model aims to help the Asian country reach the next level of economic development. An interview with Jürgen Hartwig, Manager of GIZ’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Viet Nam programme.

Thomas Imo/

Jürgen Hartwig, Manager of GIZ’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Viet Nam programme.
Jürgen Hartwig, Manager of GIZ’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Viet Nam programme.

Why is Viet Nam so interested in developing a training system based on the German model?

Germany’s dual system of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) enjoys an excellent reputation around the world, both in terms of the high quality of the experts it produces and the positive effect that the model has on business and society. This includes, for example, the low level of youth unemployment and the private sector’s involvement in implementing the system and covering costs. Officials in Viet Nam are aware of this and would therefore like to learn from the success factors underpinning the dual TVET approach.

Why now?

In recent years, Viet Nam has undergone highly dynamic economic development, but now finds itself at a crossroads. Employees’ incomes and productivity are still very low by international standards and the country is in danger of remaining caught in the so-called middle income trap. Innovations, investments and qualified experts are absolutely vital if the country is to counteract this risk. International investors and, increasingly, Vietnamese companies are already on the lookout for highly qualified experts who are also comfortable with smart manufacturing processes and Industry 4.0.

What role does demographic development play?

Viet Nam has a very young population, with around 38 per cent of its people under the age of 25. Furthermore, almost 40 per cent of the country’s workforce is still employed in the agricultural sector. But this industry is becoming increasingly mechanised and will provide fewer jobs in the future. That is why there is great interest among politicians and within society in general in young Vietnamese people spending some time abroad as skilled workers. But if they are to do this, they need a good education. With work experience and the relevant qualifications, young people will then also have the prospect of finding a good job on the Vietnamese labour market. This and the strong ties to their families means that many of them will want to return to Viet Nam after a while. 

Are German companies also involved in the reform process?

The Reform of Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Viet Nam programme is being implemented by GIZ on behalf of BMZ. We advise the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour on reforming the TVET system and the legal framework surrounding this. We also support selected TVET institutes in improving their training programmes, working closely with Vietnamese and international companies, the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Viet Nam (AHK) and chambers of industry, commerce and crafts. German companies such as Bosch, Siemens, Mercedes, Schaeffler, Pepperl+Fuchs, MTS and Festo Didactics cooperate closely with the partner TVET institutes. Some have set up production facilities in Viet Nam and are in desperate need of qualified experts. Others want to make their products known. This can be equipment for TVET institutes, didactics-related tools or hardware and software such as models of industrial automation systems that include programming stations. That is why we also implement development partnerships with the private sector.

Is this approach limited to Viet Nam?

The main focus of our commission is to improve the Vietnamese TVET system. However, selected TVET institutes are being turned into centres of excellence. They assume important functions not only within Viet Nam but also in the region. This includes providing further training for TVET staff to strengthen cooperation between TVET institutes and enterprises. In-company trainers are also gaining qualifications that meet the standard of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This standard was developed with the support of BMZ’s regional vocational training programme RECOTVET, which is also being implemented by GIZ.

What does this regional cooperation programme involve?

RECOTVET works with its partners in the ASEAN Secretariat and the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) to promote quality and labour-market orientation within TVET in a range of countries, including Viet Nam, Laos, Indonesia and Myanmar. TVET is also being adapted to meet the challenges presented by digitalisation and Industry 4.0. Train-the-trainer programmes for participants from all over South-East Asia are held at the Vietnamese centres of excellence.

What role does improved TVET play with regard to labour migration?

In Viet Nam there is great interest in the migration of skilled workers. Some Vietnamese companies, for example in the construction sector, bid for contracts from ASEAN member states and would then like to deploy their workers to those countries. There are already around 650,000 Vietnamese nationals working in over 40 countries around the world, including Japan, Taiwan and South Korea in particular, but also some EU states. German businesses are interested in skilled workers from Viet Nam, too. Looking at the situation from a development cooperation perspective, it is very important for the migration of skilled workers to be organised with development in mind. This means, for example, that people receive high-quality training in their home countries or in Germany, which gives them good career prospects anywhere in the world. This also applies to the recognition of professional qualifications. In addition, the conditions for labour migration should be communicated transparently. Only then can labour migration benefit everyone – the countries of origin, the destination countries and the migrant skilled workers themselves.

Find out more at Learning for the future

akzente July 2020

More on the web

Reform of TVET in Viet Nam programme:
Regional TVET platform for South-East Asia: www.SEA-VET.NET