How AI changes Vietnam IT job market

By Hoang Giang   November 18, 2023 | 03:24 pm PT
How AI changes Vietnam IT job market
Program engineer in Vietnam. Photo by Funix
Hoang Nam Tien, vice-chair of the board at FPT University, home of information technology programs, says that AI simultaneously steals human IT jobs while also creating new ones.

At the 2023 Talent X conference on human resources held by the Vietnam Software Association (Vinasa) this week in Hanoi, Tien said that the seven-process of software development is incompletable without the two vital steps of coding and testing.

However, he argued that 40% of engineers employed to code and test stand to lose their jobs to AI, as 50% of code lines written in commonly used programming languages, like Java, can be created by AI without human intervention.

AI and robots are doubling or tripling productivity in many stages of the software development process, so programmers cannot compete with AI without a drastic expansion of their skillsets, according to Tien.

Nonetheless, the leading IT educator stressed that AI, especially generative AI, can also create plenty of new jobs for Gen Z-ers.

"For four years, I’ve been telling my students that information technology (IT) is not limited to coding because it’s far more extensive and includes AI, blockchain, et cetera. These technologies will bring much more lucrative career opportunities than IT does on its own."

Meanwhile, Phan Ho Ha Phuong, head of AI solutions for AI and cloud computing company FPT Smart Cloud, commented that IT, like most fields, involves a multitude of repetitive and not-too-complicated processes, making it easily replaceable by AI."By 2030, the automation rate [for IT jobs] can reach 30-40%.

These repetitive jobs can be done by machines and many workers will be affected." Vietnam is already experiencing IT job downscaling and mass layoffs in the sector.

But so is the rest of the world, as evinced by the recent tsunami of Silicone Valley job losses at juggernaut digital pioneers like Amazon, Google, Facebook and X, the app formerly known as Twitter.

At the same event, Nguyen Tuan Huy, a member of Vinasa’s standing committee, which oversees the organization’s daily operations, cited early 2023 statistics from international firms showing that the global technology market has experienced the loss of at least 94,000 jobs.

Tech giants like Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon, and others have significantly reduced staff. Over 11,000 IT personnel have been laid off at Meta, 12,000 at Google and 6,000 at X.

"These figures are part of a layoff trend that is expected to escalate," said Phuong, who also noted that such massive staff reductions are possible at these mega companies because it has little effect on sales and profit.

Global statistics from online learning platform Udemy show a 60% increase in the number of employed people who have studied AI-related skills.

According to Phuong, the fact that more people are studying AI is proof that IT personnel recognize the trend and are trying to improve and adapt to it.

But he also pointed out that the rush of people entering the field has sparked fierce competition. Vietnam’s AI job market is not big enough to provide ample career opportunities at the moment, which means that only highly skilled AI engineers can obtain good positions here.

As for IT engineers who want to launch AI startups, Lam Quang Nam, an IT expert at Vinasa, advised them to make very prudent considerations, as most AI projects require gargantuan funding that few investors are willing to provide, especially in the current dreary economic climate.

"Instead, IT engineers should focus on understanding already completed AI models to better their career prospects. Providing rapid engineering results to an employer can be an alternative to founding a company," said Nam.

"At the moment, many engineers have only learned to code without fully understanding the tasks at hand. Their software may work well at first, but when it comes to expanding and upgrading their products to match the [clients’] system, they will not be able to deliver."

Experts in the field speculate that the looming gloom over the IT job market may last another two to three years until 2025, when the global economy is expected to recover.

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