Overseas workers return home to underpaid jobs

By Ngoc Anh, Dat Nguyen   August 9, 2022 | 05:28 pm PT
Overseas workers return home to underpaid jobs
A Vietnamese workers is seen in a factory in Japan. Photo by VnExpress/Thai De
For two years, Minh Nguyet has struggled to find a suitable job after returning to Hanoi from Japan where she worked for several years.

"With no certificates, I can only apply for a blue-collar job, but most factories turned me down," the 24-year-old woman said.

Factories in Vietnam demanded that she work faster than in Japan for one-fifth of the salary she got there, at around VND6 million ($256) a month.

In Japan she received VND30 million a month and was able to send two-thirds of it back to her family and live comfortably with the remaining one-third.

"I had enough to spare, but in Vietnam, I run out of money very quickly."

Nguyet is among nearly 548,700 Vietnamese citizens who’d gone abroad to work in the last five years to earn higher incomes and help their families back home.

However, many of them are returning home to great disappointment, their expectations of resuming work at home for decent pay belied in no uncertain manner.

Data from the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs shows that in Japan and South Korea, the two major labor markets for Vietnam, Vietnamese workers can earn $1,200-1,400 and $1,400-1,800 a month, respectively.

"Many people choose to stay abroad, even illegally, because of the high income," said Thien, a 40-year-old worker from Nam Dinh Province who returned to Vietnam from Taiwan a year ago after 16 years.

An overtime session in Taiwan can meet his expenses for two days, but in Vietnam, this would only cover a bottle of beverage, he said.

The work cultures of the two markets are vastly different, he said, stressing how well protected he was when fixing air-conditioners in high buildings, while in Vietnam, there is just a rope and hardly any insurance.

Thirty-seven year old Hai from the central province of Thanh Hoa is among those who have struggled to find a suitable job for three years after returning from abroad. The highest salary companies offered him was VND7 million a month, and he would have to work far away from home.

"That is why nine out of 10 people do not want to come back to Vietnam. Jobs are more stable overseas and the pay is much higher."

Vu Quang Thanh, deputy director of the Hanoi Center for Employment Services, said that most workers who return from aboard are not satisfied with the pay local companies offer as it is only one-third or one-fourth of what they’d got in other countries.

"This is why they struggle to find a suitable job. They cannot demand the same salary as they had overseas," he said at a job fair held recently.

Company leaders say that they have a demand for returning workers, but many do not have the language and management skills they require.

Dao Lan Phuong, human resource manager at electronics manufacturer Intops Vietnam in the northern province of Bac Ninh, said that most workers did labor intense jobs overseas and were not trained in high-skilled jobs and their language fluency remained at a basic level. This is why companies could only offer them basic jobs in Vietnam, she said.

Kim Jin Ho, CEO of car parts manufacturer Cap Global in the northern province of Hoa Binh, said his company needs managers, but few returning workers have enough experience and skills for such positions.

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