Japan, South Korea most lucrative for Vietnamese workers

By Nguyen Quy   November 14, 2018 | 02:11 am PT
With average monthly earnings of $1,200, Japan and South Korea have become the most attractive labor markets for Vietnamese workers.
People walk past a barber store in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Reuters/Thomas Peter

People walk past a barber store in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Reuters/Thomas Peter

A Vietnamese migrant worker can make $1,000 to $1,200 a month in Japan and South Korea, four times the average monthly salary in Vietnam, which was VND6.5 million ($290) last year.

The average wage that Taiwanese employers pay to Vietnamese workers is around $700- $800 a month; and $400-$600 in the Middle East, the National Assembly (NA)’s Committee for Social Affairs reported at a conference last week.

The attractive salaries have made Japan and South Korea the largest export labor markets for Vietnam and witnessed the fastest growth in recent years among Vietnamese citizens going abroad to work.

Last year, 54,504 Vietnamese workers went to Japan, a 36.5 percent increase from a year ago, ranking second in the list of countries and territories receiving Vietnamese migrants workers after Taiwan, according to official reports.

South Korea, meanwhile, continues to be a promising job market for Vietnamese after the South Korean government re-launched its Employment Permit System program in 2016.

The program allows 15 countries including Vietnam to send workers to South Korea. The EPS is valid for two years and renewable on expiration. Last March was the sixth time that Vietnam and South Korea signed the memorandum on the scheme, following signings in 2004, 2006, 2010, 2012 and 2016.

As of June this year, there were over 45,398 Vietnamese migrant workers in South Korea. The majority of them were registered under the Employment Permit System. South Korea is set to take 7,900 workers this year.

Remittances from Overseas Vietnamese remain a key source of funds for the national economy, accounting for about 8-10 percent of the gross domestic product.

The increase in Vietnamese going abroad to work ranked Vietnam among world’s top 10 remittance recipients in 2017. Last year, the remittances reached $13.8 billion.

According to the International Organization for Migration, nearly 100,000 Vietnamese people leave the country each year to live in more developed nations.

The trend is also apparent in the growing number of Vietnamese investors moving overseas and wealthy families deciding to emigrate, despite the higher costs of living, cultural differences, language barrier and complex visa requirements.

According to the Ministry of Labor, Invalid and Social Affairs, Vietnam sent more than 102,000 workers abroad in the first nine months this year, including more than 9,000 to Japan and 510 to South Korea.

Vietnamese workers leave the country mainly for labor-intensive and low-skilled jobs overseas. Vietnam's total workforce is around 50 million.

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