Are Vietnamese trained

Vocational training in Vietnam : "I'm looking for the right company"

Train drivers are not trained here in the east of Ho Chi Minh City. There are enough of these in Vietnam. So many, in fact, that Deutsche Bahn and private rail operators in this country, who lack at least 1,500 train drivers, are currently squinting at the Vietnamese. Several have already been trained in driving German trains at the Mannheim train driver's school. Six should now sit in the driver's cab of trains and locomotives in this country. Around two dozen are reportedly learning German in their home country in preparation for their move to Germany.

Even if the Lilama 2 vocational training center does not train train drivers, German companies can also benefit from what is happening here on the expressway from Vietnam's largest city to the country's most important port on the South China Sea. "In Vietnam, only academic training counts," is how Jürgen Hartwig, program manager for vocational training at the Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) in Vietnam, describes the situation. On behalf of the Berlin Development Ministry BMZ, it has therefore been supporting Vietnam in reforming vocational training since 2013. The topic is a focus of German-Vietnamese cooperation. GIZ will spend around 16.5 million euros on this between 2017 and 2020.

Specialists urgently wanted

The currently booming country with its 95 million inhabitants cannot currently meet the demand for skilled workers either qualitatively or quantitatively - with economic growth rates of six to seven percent per year. A third of school leavers go to university, a third to vocational training, and a third work straight away - in agriculture, for example, Hartwig knows.
2.2 million pupils are currently studying at around 2,000 vocational schools in the state - however, there is no practical training analogous to the dual system in Germany.

The Lilama shows that there is another way. There is a spirit of optimism in the classrooms and in the laboratories for practical training packed full of machines, computers and devices. You meet very self-confident young Vietnamese, like on this November day. Phan Thi Hai Tien has almost completed her three-year training as a mechatronics technician. Together with another young woman and 21 young men, she received training as a mechatronics technician at Lilama and in repeated internships lasting several months. “I will definitely do my future job well. I am picky and choose the right company, ”says the young woman while she is busy with a test filling system. Abroad - she doesn't necessarily want that. The Lilama graduates also have the best chances in Vietnam - especially in the vicinity of the booming industrial metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City, which most Vietnamese still call Saigon today.

Graduates in the firm's eye

“A new airport will be built not far from our school by 2023. A lot of skilled workers are needed for construction and operation, ”says Nguyen Khanh Cuong, the director of Lilama. The companies have long had their eye on the female and male graduates of the vocational training center in the fields of electronics, construction and machining, and mechatronics. “The professions that are being trained here are a very good fit for us,” says Thy Thu Vyen, Vice Director of the Vietnamese Martech Boiler Group. So good that the Lilama students are paid five million dong by the company for the third year, the equivalent of around 200 euros per month. This is a comparatively good salary for Vietnam.

No wonder that more than 50 local and international companies are now working with Lilama, including Bosch, Mercedes-Benz and Siemens. The German Chamber of Foreign Trade in Vietnam and the Chamber of Crafts in Erfurt and Potsdam support the Lilama and confirm that the training can be compared with German training regulations and curricula, emphasizes GIZ program manager Hartwig.

Industry 4.0 as a central topic

21,000 young people currently benefit annually from the German-Vietnamese cooperation in the vocational school sector. According to GIZ, 80 percent find a job thanks to the dual training. And they receive a monthly wage that is a quarter higher than the average in Vietnam, says Hartwig. The country is aiming for more than half of the country's workforce to be professionally trained by the end of 2020.

“Industry 4.0 is a big topic in Vietnam too,” says Hartwig. The need for appropriately trained specialists is high. Which is why, among other things, Bosch Rexroth has been heavily involved in a joint project with GIZ at Lilama, setting up its own laboratory there and building a small-scale factory of the future. The company is investing 242,000 euros, with the BMZ providing 200,000 euros. "Here we are showing what Industry 4.0 means," says Guru Mallikarjuna, who leads the training and looks after 15 people who can hope for a job in the company's factory in Vietnam. Bosch Rexroth manufactures drive trains there.

While many Vietnamese are hoping for a job in Germany, especially in the care sector - where there is a known lack of care workers - and train drivers are now being poached, the Liliama graduates are initially thinking of a job in their country. The cooperation between the vocational schools and GIZ is also part of the fight against people smugglers who continue to lure young Vietnamese with false promises and encourage them to travel to Europe - where they are often brutally exploited or even perish, as was recently the case in Great Britain .

The author was invited by GIZ to spend five days in Vietnam. He contributed to the travel expenses.

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