Vietnam tops productivity growth in ASEAN hinh anh 1Vietnamese workers have substantially improved their productivity levels in the last 15 years. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnamese workers have substantially improved their productivity levels in the last 15 years, according to ICAEW’s latest ‘Economic Insight: South East Asia’ event launched in Hanoi on June 10.

According to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales report, ‘pure productivity’ grew 2.3 percent and sectoral shifts accounted for 1.7 percent of productivity growth.

ASEAN workers, overall, have had an impressive track record, with productivity growing 3 percent per year between 2000 and 2015. This surpasses the per year growth rate of Latin America by 2 percent and Africa by 1.44 percent. Sectoral shifts (workers moving from agriculture to manufacturing and services), urbanisation and an increase of workers in the ‘prime age’ (25-54), have been the main drivers of productivity growth throughout the region, with the exception of Singapore.

Priyanka Kishore, ICAEW economic advisor and Oxford Economics lead economist, said, “Vietnam’s productivity grew at an impressive 4 percent per year in the last 15 years and should accelerate to 5 percent in the next five years, outpacing its neighbours.”

“This will be powered by sectoral shifts, urbanisation and a growing number of workers in the prime working age. Pure productivity growth, however, ranks below its ASEAN-6 neighbours except Singapore. This highlights an opportunity for Vietnam to invest in productivity measures to improve output per worker,” she said.

High household savings are also likely to have contributed to productivity improvements as sectoral shifts would not be possible without a stable supply of finance to invest in both physical and human capital. Though foreign direct investments (FDI) have an important role in growing ASEAN economies, the bulk of financing for business investment – particularly among the job-rich small- and medium-sized enterprises – comes from domestic savings and lending. This partly explains why ASEAN’s productivity has risen faster than other ‘middle income’ regions.

Mark Billington, regional director, ICAEW South East Asia, said: “Training, development and skill upgrading must play an essential role if Vietnam wants to maintain its growth path and improve the productivity and output of its workforce. As its economy continues to diversify, it will need a highly skilled workforce; one which has moved closer to a global standard of technical knowledge, business skills and innovation.”

Associate Professor Tran Dinh Thien, Director of the Vietnam Institute of Economics told participants that Vietnam needed to continue shifting economy mechanisms to higher labour productivity sectors so as to maintain labour productivity and improve labour skills.

He said, that according to ICAEW’s report rising domestic demand and booming FDI are driving economic growth of 6.5 percent despite the challenging regional and global environment. Therefore, Vietnam needed to continue diversification of export industries from oil and coffee to textile, electronics and other manufactures that have also helped shield the economy from low commodity prices.-VNA