The wood processing industry is dealing with a shortage of high-quality labourers, according to the Department of Processing and Trade for Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Products and Salt Production under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The draft industry plan from 2015 with vision to 2025 reported that labourers with a university education level or higher currently make up only 10 percent of staff while those with vocational and technical training only make up 30 percent.

On average, about 40 percent of the industry's labourers are seasonal workers who only receive 2-3 months of training to meet basic job demands.

Only two Vietnamese universities and a handful of vocational forestry colleges train high quality human resources for the sector, including Hanoi Forestry University and HCM City University of Agriculture and Forestry, but the number of graduates is too small to meet the country's needs.

The sector is set to boost forestry product export turnover to 9 billion USD by 2025, an increase of nearly three times the current number, according to the draft plan. Domestic demand for timber is also expected to increase with the rate ranging from 6 percent to 11 percent annually.

The draft also revealed that untrained human resources result in low efficiency.

The average export value each worker can generate is reported to be about 10,000 USD per year, much lower in comparison to labourers in other countries such as China (16,000 USD), Malaysia (17,500 USD) and Germany (70,000 USD).

Tran Van Da,director of the Thuan An Timber Company in southern Binh Duong Province , said the human resource shortage forces enterprises to provide their own in-service training or pay for outside training.

To improve the situation, the Department of Processing and Trade for Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Products and Salt Production said that training at universities, colleges and vocational schools should focus on meeting the demand for human resources in terms of both quantity as well as quality.

Collaboration between enterprises and schools is also important in the provision of training. Schools should base their curriculum on the specific needs of enterprises.

Enterprises are encouraged to use high technology and modern machines for production, which will help raise the quality of products while reducing manual workloads.

Policies such as granting scholarships or school fee reductions along with ensuring a reasonable wage and a good working environment are proposed to encourage labourers to pursue a career in the sector, according to the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association's Nguyen Ton Quyen.

More than 2,500 enterprises are involved in the timber processing industry, employing about 250,000 labourers.

Under the draft plan, the number of labourers working in the industry is expected to increase by 40 percent by 2015 and nearly double the current number by 2025./.