Talents cannot be attracted with money only

August 23, 2023 | 03:30 pm PT
Vo Nhat Vinh Researcher
High salaries are a very interesting factor in a job offer, but it is not the deciding factor, whether you are hunting for a science genius or a star footballer.

Ho Chi Minh City Department of Science and Technology recently announced a plan to offer high salaries to attract talents to build and manage its international research centers.

I am not totally convinced by the plan.

First of all, one talent will not be able to build up a system.

Al-Nassr are paying Cristiano Ronaldo US$200 million a year but was left empty-handed last season. Ronaldo needs other people that support him, a star needs its satellites.

The same rule applies to scientists. Geniuses need professional and moral support from their colleagues. I wonder if HCMC can afford to pay enough scientists to create a high-quality team for its international research ambitions.

A microchip expert works at the Saigon Hi-Tech Park in HCMCs Thu Duc City. Photo by VnExpress/Luc Vu

A microchip expert works at the Saigon Hi-Tech Park in HCMC's Thu Duc City. Photo by VnExpress/Luc Vu

The second factor that people will consider in a job offer is whether it has any benefits for their family. I once chose to work for Vienna University of Technology in Austria because it had a high-quality kindergarten for staff children. Messi was offered a salary twice the amount given to Cristiano Ronaldo, but he turned down the Saudi Arabia job because of life quality and education factors.

The third factor is freedom. Creative work needs a lot of freedom.

The failure of PSG in big tournaments in the past, despite having the star trio Messi, Neymar and Mbappé, could be attributed to the head coach's lack of freedom in choosing players.

Likewise, scientists need the freedom to choose members of their team, the freedom to publish their studies overseas, to invite foreign colleagues over to Vietnam, and especially, freedom from paperwork.

HCMC has deployed several programs to attract talented people before. The city has been successful in attracting talented people, but not in retaining them.

A scientist, or a scientific system, obviously needs money, but there are other factors needed to make it work.

If the city fails to see the whole picture, it will repeat its failure.

*Vo Nhat Vinh is a lecturer at CESI Graduate School of Engineering in France.

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