Not time of milk and honey for workers despite new wave of Japanese investment

By Vien Thong    August 18, 2020 | 08:52 pm PT
Not time of milk and honey for workers despite new wave of Japanese investment
Workers at Japan's Daikin air conditioner manufacturing factory in northern Hung Yen Province, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Vien Thong.
Though the shift by Japanese firms from China to Vietnam will be economically beneficial, Vietnamese workers may not be able to take advantage, experts warn.

If the Covid-19 containment efforts progress well and international flights resume soon, Vietnam could see a big wave of investment by Japanese firms in the fourth quarter that could boost recruitment demand, Navigos Search told VnExpress.

They are expected to set up shop in the Thang Long Industrial Zone 3 in the northern province of Vinh Phuc and Dong Van 3 Industrial Park in nearby Ha Nam Province, the recruitment firm said.

However, it would not mean dream jobs for Vietnamese workers, with recruiters saying salaries would not be high due to the difficulties caused by Covid-19.

There is now an abundant Japanese-speaking workforce in Vietnam, according Takeo Nakajima, chief representative of the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) in Hanoi.

Meanwhile, Japanese businesses do not exclusively employ Vietnamese people. Many are looking for South Korean candidates to head operations to supply South Korean electronics brands and their suppliers in Vietnam.

Vietnamese workers are also not noted for their soft skills, which has a bearing on job prospects.

The Japanese CEO of a paint company, who asked not to be named, said many Vietnamese workers are highly skilled but lack the curiosity to learn things.

Nguyen Tuong Hai, founder and general director of Dung Giang Nozomi, a company that hires guest workers for Japan, agreed that Vietnamese workers are skilled but often neglectful, distracted and fail to make a distinction between responsibilities and obligations.

Another CEO who asked to remain anonymous said many Vietnamese employees do not have pride in the company they work for. "Salary is an important factor. But if you are willing to jump to another company for the salary, it is regretful."

Navigos Search said in a report that a majority of Japanese companies reduced working hours or cut salaries or payrolls in the second quarter of this year while others, due to difficulties faced by their parent company in Japan, even had to temporarily stop operations in Vietnam, leaving many people unemployed.

The severe impact of the Covid-19 outbreak has also caused many Japanese firms to put off recruitment plans, Navigos Search executives said.

In the second quarter newly established companies could not begin production because of the pandemic while many senior Japanese executives have not been able to enter the country due to entry restrictions and lack of international flights, delaying many recruitment decisions.

According to an official list Jetro released last month, 15 out of 30 Japanese firms the Japanese government has helped move out of China to Southeast Asia have opted for Vietnam.

Jetro said the subsidies would range from $900,000 to $46.5 million and partly cover the moving expenses.

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