Southern factories race to hire workers as Covid restrictions ease, production resumes

By Minh Vuong, Ha Mai, Dat Nguyen   October 19, 2021 | 08:32 pm PT
Southern factories race to hire workers as Covid restrictions ease, production resumes
Workers leave Ho Chi Minh City, October 1, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Foreign companies in southern Vietnam are scrambling to recruit employees, offering higher salaries and benefits, as they seek to return to normal production levels after months of lockdowns.

Daeyoung Electronics Vina in Thu Duc City is looking for 200 workers to increase its production from the current 80 percent level.

"We also have some senior and management-level vacancies for which it is difficult to find experienced candidates," deputy director Lee Hee Bok told VnExpress International.

There is a sense of urgency since the South Korean maker of parts for LCD screens and refrigerators has been unable to fulfill orders in the last few months during the period of social distancing in HCMC.

It is trying to persuade workers to return to HCMC by sending them messages that their safe travel would be taken care of and they would get vaccinated, Lee said.

Trieu Thien Vu, human resources officer at Taiwanese rice cracker maker Want Want Vietnam in Tien Giang Province, said: "We are urgently recruiting employees for production lines and administration such as head of quality, head of administration, logistics staff, general accountants, Chinese interpreters, and technical staff".

This is because many orders are outstanding and need to be fulfilled, he said.

Nguyen Xuan Son, operation manager of staffing and outsourcing services in HCMC at recruitment company ManpowerGroup Vietnam, said labor shortages in major cities and industrial hubs are having a severe impact on labor-intensive sectors like electronics, textile, wood, footwear, tourism, and hospitality.

During the four months of social distancing, millions of workers saw their incomes drop, and concerns about the pandemic and social security caused many to leave cities, he said.

Between July and September 15, some 1.3 million migrant workers had already returned to their hometowns, according to data released by the General Statistics Office.

Companies are increasing salaries and benefits for workers, and also considering giving promotions and opportunities for training and career development, he added.

Daeyoung could not promise higher salaries but is making changes in policies to offer workers better benefits, Bok said.

The company is focusing on hiring locally to avoid a similar labor crisis in the future should another social distancing period come, he added.

Nissei Electric Vietnam Company in Tien Giang is making plans to hire as soon the southern province eases all pandemic-related restrictions, some of which are still in place.

The Japanese cable maker has only fulfilled half its orders this year and needs more workers to complete the rest by the end of the year, human resource officer Thien Nga said.

But she does not know the exact number of new people needed since the company is still waiting to return to normal production.

One of its advantages is that many workers have returned to southern localities and the labor pool there is bigger.

"After the pandemic is controlled, it is expected that the labor supply can meet the company’s demand," Nga said.

Nissei, which also has production facilities in HCMC, earlier this month posted job vacancies for administrators in production, assembly and and quality inspectors in the city.

Nearly 57 percent of companies in the country plan to start recruiting as soon as things return to normal after the fourth wave of Covid-19 forced them to close down for months, according to a survey by recruitment company Navigos.

Half of all companies plan to hire new and inexperienced employees as they seek to optimize costs, with focus on sales and IT candidates, a Navigos survey, which polled over 400 employers in August, found.

Data from recruitment company Adecco confirms the trend: demand for recruitment in the third quarter surged by 30 percent year-on-year.

Energy and manufacturing companies lead in demand for senior-level employees such as project managers, quality managers and senior supply chain operators.

An increasing number of multinational corporations are hiring in Vietnam, indicating they do not want to be dependent on foreign employees like before, Nguyen Hoang Thanh Chuong, deputy director of recruitment at Adecco Ho Chi Minh City, said.

"Some businesses have decided to expand their operations in Vietnam and so demand for local staff recruitment will increase".

Hindrances remain

Some companies have a large number of workers ready to work but are unable to bring them to their factories due to municipal regulations.

"We are facing obstacles in recruitment because returnees from other localities have to undergo quarantine before applying for jobs," Dao Nguyen, human resources officer for U.S.-owned cable manufacturer PCT Vietnam in Tra Vinh Province, said.

The company has been getting more applications than it needs for a number of positions in production, planning, purchasing, warehouse management, and inventory control.

Some multinationals are facing challenges in hiring foreign experts in senior positions due to the difficulties in bringing them into the country and limited international flights, Nguyen Thu Trang, ManpowerGroup Vietnam country head for permanent recruitment, executive search and consulting services, said.

"Most companies have stopped the recruitment of foreign experts except in special cases permitted by the governments."

Companies that could not do without foreign experts have turned to local expats, she said.

Son of ManpowerGroup said the fourth wave has taught companies that they need to show appreciation for employees to prevent them from leaving.

This means they need to set up contingency funds to assist them in difficult times, he added.

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