Vietnam faces AI stumbling block: developers

By Nguyen Xuan   August 17, 2019 | 01:00 am PT
Vietnam faces AI stumbling block: developers
Hands of a robot and human touching on global virtual network connection future interface. Photo by Shutterstock/PopTika.
Artificial intelligence is crucial to Vietnam's digitization aims, but a shortage of developers is a stumbling block. 

With a projected 2020 demand for 350,000 IT workers, Vietnam will likely see a shortfall of 70,000-90,000, said Prof. Nguyen Thanh Thuy, Deputy Principal of the University of Engineering Technology of Vietnam National University at an IT conference on Friday.

While AI research has been undertaken for around 5-7 years, the country will need the human resources to develop and apply such technology. However, training people for this sector is no small task, said Thuy.

Currently, global demand for AI engineers is one million people, while there are only around 10,000 individuals worldwide with the right skills to spearhead serious new AI projects, she said, citing Google Brain, the deep learning artificial intelligence team at Google Inc.

Prof. Ho Tu Bao, Director of the John von Neumann Institute, said Vietnamese businesses need to coordinate with training institutions to produce short term courses and curricula to develop professional AI human resources.

"This year, the Hanoi University of Science and Technology has opened a new AI school, which has the highest entry requirement in the university for a limited number of students."

As rare as AI personnel are, finding teachers to train them is even more difficult, and Vietnam as such needs to focus resources to build a team of both local and foreign experts, who will be able to create a foundation for AI in Vietnam, Prof. Bao added.

According to a recent survey on workers in the IT industry by research firm Navigos in Vietnam, 69 percent said they intend to switch jobs, and 31 percent said they were thinking about it. The main reason, they found, was that employees were not satisfied with remuneration from companies.

Vietnam is seeing a brain drain in the IT industry because remuneration and investment in human resources, especially in high-tech manpower, have not been given special importance. "The government needs to enact policies to foster high-tech talents," said Ngo Thi Ngoc Lan, Northern region director of Navigos.

The country is keeping up with global AI trends, with Ho Chi Minh City, its biggest city, spearheading the effort.

Earlier this month, it opened Vietnam’s first AI-powered socioeconomic simulation center to predict future trends for the southern metropolis, the country's key economic driver.

Foreign and local companies are now investing heavily in AI, especially by acquiring AI startups or creating their own research labs and companies, Hanoi-based tech firm Rubik AI said in January. The report also discovered that some universities offer AI modules in their curricula.

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