Vietnam steps up efforts to bring overseas experts home

By An Hong   August 23, 2016 | 06:00 am GMT+7
Vietnam steps up efforts to bring overseas experts home
Vietnamese high school students find out about an American college during an international education fair in Hanoi. Photo by AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam

Around 300,000 overseas Vietnamese are active in the fields of science and technology.

Vietnam plans to build an information database of Vietnamese scientists living overseas so that the country can tap into their potentials, according to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vu Hong Nam.

Vietnam has compiled a list of thousands of Vietnamese scientists currently active in a variety of scientific, technological and economic fields, the government's online portal quoted Nam, who is also the chairman of the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs, as saying.

Of the five million overseas Vietnamese, about 300,000 are directly involved in scientific and technological development, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, highlighting the fact that Vietnam needs their expertise back in the country.

As part of the government’s efforts, the Ministry of Education and Training has offered overseas Vietnamese intellectuals employment at local universities so that they can provide training as lecturers and researchers.

Vietnamese universities currently employ about 600 foreign experts on short-term contracts, of whom just 52 are overseas Vietnamese, according to a survey of 49 local universities and colleges.

Local governments have also seen the potential of luring these individuals home.

For instance, the Overseas Vietnamese Club for Science and Technology, set up by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee around 10 years ago, has helped connect overseas Vietnamese scientists with local institutions and individuals who need their skills and abilities.

Last year Ho Chi Minh City failed to hit its recruitment targets, hiring only half the number of foreign experts, including overseas Vietnamese, that it needed, according to the city’s Department of Science and Technology, due mainly to a lack of financial incentives.

Vietnam received $12.3 billion in overseas remittances last year, slightly up from $12 billion in 2014, according to the central bank.

Remittances from overseas Vietnamese remain a key source of foreign currencies for the country's economy, in addition to foreign direct investment and official development assistance. There are currently 4.5 million Vietnamese people living overseas who send home foreign currencies equivalent to about 8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

The Vietnamese government has tried to keep the link between those living outside the country and the homeland alive.

Last month, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved a Vietnamese-language online teaching program which targets younger generations of overseas Vietnamese.

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