Electronics industry labor stuck low down in value chain

By Hong Chieu   July 20, 2022 | 05:36 am PT
Electronics industry labor stuck low down in value chain
Workers assemble electronic components in a factory in in the northern province of Bac Giang. Photo by VPG
Most of Vietnam’s 1.3 million electronics workers perform simple tasks classified as low-value manufacturing, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said.

The electronics sector accounted for a third of total exports at US$108 billion last year, and employed 1.3 million workers.

But most were "cheap labor" who performed simple tasks, Tran Thi Hong Lien, deputy director of the VCCI’s Bureau of Employer Activities, said.

"Around 5 percent of companies said their workers do not meet basic skill requirements," he said, citing a survey of 44 firms done by the VCCI and the International Labor Organization last year.

Sixty percent of the respondents said the lack of skilled workers was "a moderate to serious" challenge, and 50 percent viewed the lack of professional skills of supervisors and managers a "big challenge".

Most workers in the industry are somewhat skilled, doing simple assembly tasks.

But it remained one of the most attractive employers with an average salary of VND7.2 million ($307), higher than the garment and mechanical sectors.

It was also the country’s biggest employer providing 8.66 percent of all jobs last year, Nguyen Xuan Tuong, deputy head of the Department of Industrial Relations and Wages, said.

Half of all workers in the electronics sector worked over 48 hours a week, he said.

"Long working hours precluded training and entertainment," he said, suggesting employers should talk with their workers.

Vietnam is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the manufacturing exodus from China, Nikkei Asia newspaper said.

The country is becoming one of the most prominent new locations for global manufacturers, with the biggest smartphone producers, Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi, all having assembly lines there.

Lien said the government should offer incentives to electronics companies for training workers.

Do Thi Thuy Huong of the Vietnam Electronic Industries Association called on the government to support local companies that enter the supply chain and to keep away "low-quality" FDI.

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