Vietnam needs to focus on developing high quality human resources to ensure that the process of integrating into the world economy can be sustained, experts said at a conference held recently in HCM City .

The conference, titled “Integration: Co-operation and Competition,” was co-organised by the Hanoi University of Commerce and the HCM City College of Foreign Economic Relations.

Attending the conference were policy-makers and scholars from Vietnam and several other countries.

They exchanged information, experiences and ideas on integration trends between Vietnam and foreign countries, especially those in the Asia-Pacific region.

High quality human resource is the platform to create the best competitive base, keep wastage of materials to a minimum and create resilience and develop resistance to overcome crises. Hence this provides a solid basis for sustainable development, said Pham Xuan Thu of the HCM City College of Foreign Economic Relations.

He noted that definitions of what constitutes a skilled worker differ, but it is important to keep in mind that such workers do not have to be highly educated or possess much job experience. They need to have certain skill sets necessary to work in a certain field.

Every year, about 1.5-1.7 million people enter the labour force in Vietnam . Last year, the number of people with college degrees reached three million, accounting for 5.9 percent of the labour force.

The Vietnamese Government has paid a lot of attention to investing in education and training sector, the conference heard. Total State budget expenditure for this sector was104.77 trillion VND (5.03 billion USD) in 2010, accounting for 20 percent of the GDP.

However, Vietnam ’s human resource quality is low compared to other countries. According to World Bank rankings, the human resource quality of Vietnam is 3.79 compared to the Republic of Korea ’s 6.91, India ’s 5.76, Malaysia ’s 5.59 and Thailand ’s 4.49 points.

Based on the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum, in 2009-10, Vietnam was ranked 75th out of 133 countries in labour productivity, while Singapore , Malaysia and Thailand were in the third, 24th and 36th position respectively.

In the ASEAN region, Vietnam ’s Human Development Index (0.718) is only higher than three countries: Laos (0.608), Cambodia (0.575) and Myanmar (0.585).

Thu said there’s need to re-evaluate the output quality of universities, colleges and vocational schools in the whole country, and effect needed reforms in the national education system through changes in the curricula and management mechanisms.

Employees need to proactively seek information and self-training to maximise their skills and competitiveness, he added.

Employers, on the other hand, should be responsible for training and retraining management staff if they are to become competitive enough to face the competition that the international integration process entails.

At the conference, In-Soo HAN of the Chungnam National University in the RoK said Vietnam should stimulate e-learning in university education because of its effectiveness.

E-learning took advantage of the speed, memory, and data manipulation capabilities of the computer for greater flexibility of instruction, he said./.