Factories in provinces attract workers back from cities

By Le Tuyet   February 8, 2023 | 12:11 am PT
While returning to her hometown in the central province of Thanh Hoa for Tet, Ngoc Bich noticed a billboard put up by a company from her province.

Leading Star Thanh Hoa Garment Company in the Bim Son Industrial Park was seeking to recruit workers and offered them a monthly salary of VND9 million (US$380).

Bich has been a garment industry worker in HCMC for more than 10 years, but is hesitant about returning to the city after calling Leading Star.

Being skilled, the 32-year-old will not have to go through probation, and will get a higher base salary.

"The income is VND9 million, and the workplace is close to my home, my kids," she said.

This year Leading Star needs to recruit 3,000 workers.

Nguyen Thi Kim Oanh, head of the company’s trade union, said at the end of last year firms in southern Vietnam received few orders, resulting in layoffs, and so her company plans to attract migrant workers from Thanh Hoa who work there.

So now her company has put up the billboard on Highway 13 in HCMC’s Thu Duc city, close to the industrial province of Binh Duong.

Leading Star Thanh Hoa Garment Company’s billboard on Highway 13 in HCMC’s Thu Duc City seeking to hire workers. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong

Leading Star Thanh Hoa Garment Company’s billboard on Highway 13 in HCMC’s Thu Duc City seeking to hire workers. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong

She said right after Tet, Lunar New Year holidays from January 20-26, 150 workers who had been in HCMC came to her factory to interview and were hired.

Vinh Hoan Joint Stock Company, an agricultural products and seafood processor in the southern province of Dong Thap, plans to recruit 2,000 new workers this year to help with expansion and replace those who have quit.

Ho Thi Nhu Nguyet, in charge of recruitment at Vinh Hoan, said 90% of her company’s workers are locals.

The average monthly salary is VND8-9 million while skilled and industrious workers earn VND15-16 million,

"Workers can save and live better because costs are lower in the countryside," Nguyet pointed out.

Vinh Hoan adopts a variety of hiring strategies, especially after Tet when worker turnover is usually high.

It posts information on its social networking site, staff go to communes and districts and distribute leaflets, and it also encourages its employees to refer their relatives.

Nguyen Thi Minh Tuyet, deputy director of the Dong Thap Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, said local seafood processing and garment plants always need large numbers of workers.

To attract workers, many companies hire couples and build kindergartens for children.

The province encourages workers to work near home so that their children get better education and care.

A job fair being held on February 1, 2023 in Tan Hong District in the southern province of Dong Thap. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong

A job fair being held on February 1, 2023 in Tan Hong District in the southern province of Dong Thap. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong

In February and March, her department plans to organize 12 job fairs in all districts and cities across Dong Thap.

According to Nguyen Duc Loc, director of the Social Life Research Institute in HCMC, more and more migrant people are returning to work in their hometowns.

A survey by the institute late last year of 1,000 migrant workers found 15.5% intended to return to their hometowns for good, 44.6% were undecided and only 39.9% were firm about remaining in the city where they worked.

Many want to return home because their income is not enough to live in a city and life is stressful, job opportunities and incomes are better in the countryside and workplaces are close to home.

Nearly half of the surveyed workers said they want to work near their families.

When they lose their job in a city, migrant workers choose to return to their hometown and often do not return.

Loc said if there are opportunities in the countryside, people would no longer migrate to cities to work. With issues like social distancing, unemployment and job loss, they feel safer in the countryside, he added.

Nguyen Huu Tuan, human resources director of the Thanh Cong Textile - Garment - Investment - Trading Joint Stock Company in HCMC’s Tan Phu District, said after Tet every year the company loses 10-15% of skilled workers, mostly with children, who find jobs in the countryside.

In cities the cost of raising one or two children and running a family is too high, and so working parents prefer to return home and work in the countryside.

Thanh Cong has several plants in various provinces.

Its workers in the southern province of Vinh Long get 20% lower wages than in cities, but yet can save more because accommodation for the whole family only costs VND400,000-500,000 a month while in a city it is three or four times higher, Tuan said.

Besides, in the countryside, people also have additional sources of income such as from gardening and raising livestock.

Factories in urban areas cannot indefinitely keep hiking salaries to retain workers either.

"In the near future, when infrastructure in provinces improve and attract more factories, leading to higher incomes for workers -- matching those in cities -- the rate of workers returning to their hometowns will increase," Tuan predicted.

Nevertheless, many young people are still attracted by the bright lights of the big cities, and companies with good policies manage to attract them to offset seasonal labor shortages, he added.

According to Tuyet, Dong Thap encourages young people who want to study and improve their skills to work in HCMC or Binh Duong.

"When the treatment and working environment at factories in our province are good enough, migrant workers will return by themselves."

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