Press release

Most Vietnamese wage earners are young, dynamic and mobile

Young and dynamic women and men make up the biggest group among Viet Nam’s wage workers, who are willing to migrate within the country to find work, shows a new policy brief issued by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Press release | 21 July 2015
HANOI (ILO News) – Young and dynamic women and men make up the biggest group among Viet Nam’s wage workers, who are willing to migrate within the country to find work, shows a new policy brief issued by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Wage workers are those who hold an employment contract and often have better working conditions and socio-economic status.

Among the employed young workers aged between 15 and 24, nearly half (47 per cent) are wage earners, which “indicates one of the key characteristics of the Vietnamese labour market today”, according to ILO Viet Nam Director Gyorgy Sziraczki. A large proportion of young people – many of them are first generation of wage workers – find jobs in the gradually expanding formal economy, especially in the dynamic export-oriented sectors such as garment and electronics.

Approximately 38 per cent of wage workers have migrated internally with the share of women working outside their home province (48 per cent) exceeds that of men (32 per cent).

In terms of marital status, seven in ten wage workers are married, which highlights the importance of family-friendly policies including parental leaves and flexible working arrangements to attract and retain the pool of talents.

Over 75 per cent of wage workers have been with their current employers for less than 10 years. This partly reflects the young age of workers and the current labour market reality.

Many first-generation wage workers, especially migrants, start their working life in the export-oriented manufacturing sector but after a few years, they leave to set up their own small businesses, or return to household enterprises as contributing family workers, or move to small-and medium-sized firms where employment relationship often remains an informal one (without employment contracts).

“This labour market reality needs to be taken into account in the future development of social protection policies and in the reform of the labour law and industrial relations system,” said the ILO Viet Nam Director.

Wage employment on the rise

The ILO estimated that wage employees will total 25 million, or 44 per cent of all workers by 2025, in comparison to the current 18.2 million, or 35 per cent of total employment as pointed out by the 2013 Viet Nam Labour Force Survey. This already represents an expansion from 13.5 million, or 29 per cent of all workers, in 2005.

By economic sector, manufacturing accounts for the most wage employees in Viet Nam (29 per cent, or 5.2 million workers). Construction ranks second with 16 per cent, followed by agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

Many wage workers have relatively low education background as about half of them have only completed lower secondary schools or less. Meanwhile, 18 per cent of wage employees have at least started university.

However, education background does not necessarily collate with skills levels which could be improved based on on-the-job trainings.

Approximately half of wage workers are in medium-skill occupation while about one fourth are in high-skill jobs.

In addition to increasing the education and skill level of its workforce, this also underlines the need for Viet Nam to use innovative employment and industrial policies and policies to encourage high-value added sectors, which will help the country avoid the middle income trap.

More females in wage employment tend to work in high-skill jobs than their male counterparts – one in three women in contrast to one in five men.

A notable gender imbalance also exists in different sectors. While women are overrepresented in particular industries such as garment manufacturing, far more men are found in wage employment in construction, fishing and agriculture.

“Having a comprehensive portrait of wage workers is critical for Viet Nam to translate into evidence-based policies that best fit the workforce, meet today’s and future demands of businesses, and support structural change and inclusive growth,” said the ILO Viet Nam Director.

For more information, please contact:

Tran Quynh Hoa (Ms)
National Communications Officer
ILO Country Office for Viet Nam
48-50 Nguyen Thai Hoc Streeet, Hanoi
Tel: (84-4) 37340907 Ext.218
Mobile: (84) 904 409 787