Widespread gender discrimination needs to be tackled effectively to ensure more female workers access vocational training, gain knowledge and skills and increase their competitiveness, experts say.

At a two-day conference in HCM City that closed on February 2, Trinh Thi Thu Nga, a senior official of the Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs, said the rate of female workers receiving vocational training is significantly lower than their male counterparts.

Nga said gender discrimination within households, especially in rural and mountainous areas is one of the main causes for the low rate of female workers receiving vocational training.

“They give priority to their sons in accessing education and training and think that daughters do not need learn a lot,” she said.

Although the Government has initiated many vocational training programmes for workers, many women in the rural areas are still not encouraged to attend them, she added.

A recent study found that women accounted for more than 70 percent of the workforce in the animal husbandry industry, but only 20 percent received vocational training in this area of work.

Associate Prof Cao Van Sam, deputy head of the General Department of Vocational Training said that Article 110 of Labour Law requires that State offices have the responsibility to train staff in skills other than their existing jobs in order to prepare them for future assignments. They are also required to create favourable conditions for the staff to use their new skills.

However, only 2.08 percent of female employees received such preparatory training, he said. He noted that training for new work was particularly necessary in some professions, like that of airhostesses, who typically are not allowed to do that work after they are 35.

The Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) will co-operate with the Vietnam Women’s Union to increase the rate of female workers receiving vocational training by 2015 in order to improve their quality, effectiveness and competitiveness, said Tao Bang Huy, deputy head of the ministry’s Employment Department.

He said this will help increase employment among women towards meeting the demand of the industrialisation and modernisation process as well as that of international economic integration.

The Vietnam Women’s Union at all levels will work to ensure that 50,000 women access vocational training every year, Huy added.

He noted that the rate of female workers receiving training had increased by 35 percent last year over 2008.

According to the National Research Institute of Labour Protection, women account for 48 percent of the country’s workforce./.