Not long ago, foreign companies that were developing mobile apps would outsource a part of the work like design or testing to companies in Vietnam. Now, those foreign firms are outsourcing entire app projects to Vietnam — and creating hot jobs in a cool economy.
The pandemic this year has wiped out millions of jobs, but certain sectors like technology have thrived and continue to hire. Among the top sectors for job creation this year, and most likely into next year, are technology, energy, financial services and pharmaceuticals, while the real estate sector is witnessing a surge in demand for senior positions, according to Adecco, a leading human resources provider.
Adecco, based in Switzerland, has since 2014 been analyzing the labor market across key sectors in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Its Adecco Vietnam Salary Guide 2021 found that because companies accelerated their digital transformation as legions of people worked and shopped from home, the need for information technology jobs like data engineer and infrastructure engineer soared. It reported that software architects and engineers with several years of experience could make more than 100 million VND a month.
Government officials say they have seen a sharp increase in the number of digital start-ups this year. Vietnam recorded 5,600 newly-established digital technology businesses in 2021 stemming from the need to work, sell and communicate online during the pandemic, according to VietnamPlus, citing government figures.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Vietnam is expected to be Southeast Asia's fastest-growing e-commerce market by 2026, with e-commerce gross merchandise value reaching US$56 billion by 2026, 4.5 times the estimated value in 2021.
“The fact that employees have to work remotely via the Internet makes companies increase personnel for the network and database administration department,” Thu Ha Nguyen, director of Adecco’s Hanoi office, said in the company’s third-quarter update. “Plus, cloud storage has been driving the digitization process at businesses faster than ever. This leads to dramatic growth in the demand for IT engineers soon.”
She also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted medical achievements. Talents in biomedical engineering, chemistry, biology, and data analysis will continue to be sought after to research solutions to prevent, treat and control diseases, she said.
“Applied science, automation technology, and artificial intelligence (AI) in manufacturing sectors will also capture great attention and investment to ensure physical distancing in the production environment or at the point of sale,” Nguyen said in the update.
A key takeaway from Adecco’s research is that Vietnam’s software outsourcing sector is becoming increasingly attractive to companies around the world. A big reason is the relatively low wages in Vietnam.
Vietnam has an average salary — about 6.7 million VND a month — that is on par with India, one of the biggest tech and outsourcing hubs in the world, according to a report from the General Statistics Office of Vietnam. Wages are expected to rise as Vietnam’s economy grows, but salaries and general administration costs in Vietnam are still quite low compared with developed countries, said Chuong Nguyen, associate director and recruitment business of Adecco Ho Chi Minh City’s office.
That’s especially true when it comes to software. And in software outsourcing, demand for workers is increasing daily, said Nguyen. “Currently, software engineers in Vietnam are assigned to develop the entire application for the parent company abroad, instead of only performing just a few parts or stages as before,” said Nguyen.
“The demand for high-quality workforce in this field will increase in the coming time,” he said.
To be sure, the pandemic has been devastating for the economy and millions of workers, especially in hard-hit sectors like hospitality and aviation. During the height of the lockdowns, about 28 million people over age 15 suffered some sort of hardship in the third quarter, from job losses to furloughs to reduced hours, according to the report of the General Statistics Office. About 4.7 million people lost their jobs in the third quarter.
But the crisis has spawned new roles as businesses try to adapt. Adecco found that across sectors, companies have created new jobs with titles like transformation officer and value creation director, as the pandemic demanded creative approaches to surviving and adapting in unprecedented times.
Another trend is that more multinational companies are recruiting workers in Vietnam for roles that would have been filled by global teams outside of the country, said Hoa Dang, associate director of Adecco’s Ho Chi Minh City office. The reasons for the increased hiring by multinational range from lower costs for salaries in Vietnam to foreign teams being unable to make on-site visits due to travel restrictions. Hot jobs in this area include internal audit positions, she said.
“If in the past, these companies often utilized regional audit teams, lately, many of them have recruited new local-based headcounts for the Vietnam team," she said.
“Also, some enterprises decide to expand their operations in the Vietnamese market, so recruiting new staff with a reasonable cost is understandable," Dang said.
She added that a “hot job” is not just a good paying one. Employees are also paying attention to the sustainability of a business, its financial health and how it takes care of its employees amidst the pandemic. And because millions of workers lost jobs as businesses had to downsize or shut down due to the COVID19 outbreak, many may be willing to challenge themselves and seek out new experiences with positions at start-up companies.