German-Vietnamese Cooperation on the Exchange of Skilled Workers

Posted by Written by Julia Goeb Reading Time: 3 minutes

A German delegation visit to Vietnam from January 23-24 highlighted prospects for bilateral cooperation in developing Vietnamese skilled workers. We discuss key points raised during the visit, including challenges and business growth opportunities.

A delegation from Germany, led by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Labour Minister Hubertus Heil, made a short visit to Vietnam from January 23-24. During their stay, they met with numerous members of the Vietnam government as well as representatives of the German business community. A central focus of the mission was to deepen cooperation in the field of skilled workers.

Vietnamese skilled workers urgently needed in Germany

While many industries in Germany are suffering from an acute shortage of skilled workers, Vietnam has a large number of motivated young people who are open to working in Germany for a few years, in areas such as healthcare, mechanical engineering, or IT. Besides, a number of German educational and vocational training schools in Vietnam also find appeal among Vietnamese job seekers and young graduates for skill upgradation or industrial training.

At the official meetings with Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, and Parliament Speaker Vuong Dinh Hue, both sides expressed their willingness to break down obstacles, intensify exchanges and, more specifically, to recruit Vietnamese skilled workers. This is also part of the Strategic Action Plan between the Federal Republic of Germany and Vietnam, which was signed in 2011 under erstwhile Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Delegation meets representatives of German businesses in Vietnam

On the first day of the delegation visit, the focus was on cultural and political exchanges in Hanoi, including a visit to the Temple of Literature, which is considered Vietnam’s first university with 1000 years of existence. The following day in Ho Chi Minh City, the focus was on concrete efforts to recruit skilled workers. A visit to the Deutsches Haus Ho Chi Minh City hosted by the German Chamber of Commerce and the German Business Association brought together important representatives of the German business community in Vietnam. The Vietnamese German University, which teaches mainly in the fields of mechanical engineering, computer science, and management in cooperation with the University of Leipzig, presented its program.

Higher education is a priority, but there is a lot of catching up to do in terms of specialization

Although higher education has traditionally been very important in Vietnam, there is still a need for persuasion when it comes to in-depth further education and specialization, especially among students’ parents. However, it is precisely these specializations that are urgently needed in Germany and among German companies in Vietnam. The possibility of an exchange with the German partner university or employment in Germany is a strong argument for convincing undergraduates to pursue a specialized Master’s degree.

German language still a prerequisite for employment in Germany

The Goethe-Institut was also visited, another building block in the development of successful specialists for the step to Germany. Primarily catering to language learning by prospective exchange students, some of the almost 400 German companies operating in Vietnam fund language courses for key personnel to improve their dealings with German customers and deepen their understanding of the corporate culture. Mastering the German language remains a challenging yet essential requirement for aspiring skilled workers intending to settle in Germany. Proficiency in German is crucial for navigating everyday life, especially in the often rural areas of the country.

Positive signal from the German government on cooperation with Vietnam

Ingo Brandenburg, Member of the Board of Directors of the German Business Association and Director of BAYER in Vietnam, summarizes the symbolism and the hoped-for effects in the medium term:

Germany has been Vietnam’s primary economic partner in Europe for over five decades, and the two countries maintain a substantial trading relationship. This partnership is further strengthened through high-level exchanges and effective bilateral cooperation, exemplified by the Vietnam-Germany Strategic Action Plan 2023-2025. Vietnam actively encourages business investments, focusing on sectors such as heavy industry, energy, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, and transportation infrastructure. With ambitious goals, including reducing carbon footprint and enhancing energy efficiency, Vietnam is poised for significant growth in sustainable industries both over the mid and long term.

Conclusion and outlook

Overall, the state visit of the German Federal President to Vietnam sends a strong signal of cooperation and commitment between the two countries to intensify the exchange of skilled workers. This strategic partnership between Germany and Vietnam demonstrates the potential for sustainable economic development and holds promising prospects for the future of both nations.

Vietnam’s GDP growth is estimated to be around 6 percent in 2024. With an estimated GDP growth of 6 percent for the current year 2024, German companies that want to settle in Vietnam will find the best conditions fueled with political goodwill on both sides. 

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