2nd National Child Labour Survey

Viet Nam’s child labour rate lower than region’s average by 2 percentage points

Latest survey undertaken in 2018 finds more than 1.7 million children participating in economic activities across Viet Nam, among whom more than 1 million are engaged in child labour.

Thông cáo báo chí | Ngày 18 tháng 12 năm 2020

HANOI – Viet Nam’s second National Child Labour Survey launched this morning (18 December) identifies an estimated 5.3 per cent of the 5-17 year olds engaged in child labour. This accounts for more than 1 million children, over half of whom are working in hazardous conditions.

Conducted by the Ministry of Labour Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) in coordination with the General Statistics Office with technical support from the International Labour Organization (ILO), the rate of child labour in Viet Nam is approximately 2 percentage points lower than the regional average for Asia and the Pacific.

“Compared to findings from the first National Child Labour Survey conducted in 2012, the latest figures point to an encouraging decrease in the prevalence of working children, which dropped from 15.5 per cent of children in 2012 to 9.1 per cent in 2018,” said MOLISA Vice Minister Nguyễn Thị Hà.

A total of 58.8 per cent of working children in Viet Nam are engaged in child labour, undertaking work that has been prohibited either because of the age of the child concerned, the number of hours worked or the nature of the tasks involved. Child labour encompasses work that is detrimental to the physical or mental health of a child, and negatively affects their schooling or development.

In line with global trends, 84 per cent of children in child labour in Viet Nam are concentrated in rural areas and just over half of them work in the agricultural, forestry and fishery sector. Other sectors where child labour is prevalent include the service sector and the industry and construction sector. Notably 40.5 per cent of children in child labour work as unpaid family workers.

Viet Nam’s increased participation in global trade compels Vietnamese businesses to ensure that their supply chains are free from child labour in order to compete on the global market."

ILO Viet Nam Director, Chang Hee Lee
“Child labour tends to take place in informal household enterprises further down manufacturing and production supply chains, which makes it difficult to detect. Viet Nam’s increased participation in global trade compels Vietnamese businesses to ensure that their supply chains are free from child labour in order to compete on the global market,” ILO Viet Nam Director, Chang Hee Lee, said.

The survey estimates that nearly 520,000 children in Viet Nam are engaged in hazardous child labour, or work which poses significant risks to a child’s health, safety or morals. Children in hazardous child labour are more likely to work in the industry and construction sector, with a lower participation rate in the agricultural sector compared with children in child labour. Hours of work for children in hazardous child labour tend to be high, with 40.6 per cent of children in this group working for over 40 hours per week.

In addition to the health and safety risks of long hours of work, the survey highlights the adverse impacts of economic engagement on children’s school attendance, with the percentage of children in school decreasing as the intensity of economic engagement rises. Compared to the national average school attendance of 94.4 per cent, only half of Vietnamese children in child labour attend school.Ffor children engaged in hazardous child labour, this figure is even lower, at just 38.6 per cent. However, figures indicate a positive trend in the overall percentage of working children attending school, which has risen to 63 per cent compared to just 43.6 per cent in 2012.

Although survey findings indicate promising signs of progress between 2012 and 2018, the risk of child labour has now been intensified by the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19. Today, in Viet Nam and around the world, more families are being forced to resort to child labour as a strategy to cope with loss of income and livelihood constraints resulting from disruptions to global supply chains and social distancing measures. In light of the devastating floods that have affected Central Viet Nam this year, this risk has further intensified for affected families, who face the double burden of the pandemic and climate-related catastrophe.

Actions must be taken to mitigate the detrimental effects of the pandemic and the increasing threat of natural disasters, which risk jeopardizing hard won gains in combatting child labour, and may lead to a rise in new cases. As such, national efforts must be urgently accelerated towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 8.7 to end child labour in all its forms. As a pathfinder country for Global Alliance 8.7, Viet Nam is committed to conducting research, sharing knowledge and driving innovation towards this goal.

To underscore the pressing need to step up efforts to eradicate child labour, now more than ever, the year 2021 has been designated by the UN General Assembly as the international Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. To meet this challenge and fulfil Viet Nam’s role as pathfinder country, the Government has developed a roadmap towards SDG Target 8.7 in conjunction with the country’s upcoming National Action Plan to prevent and reduce child labour for the period 2021-2025.

For more information, please contact:

  • Nguyen Mai Oanh, ENHANCE Project manager, ILO Viet Nam; + 84-4-37340902 Ext. 104; oanh@ilo.org
  • Tran Quynh Hoa, National Communication Officer, ILO Viet Nam; +84-24-38506127 ; email : hoahancom@ilo.org
  • Vu Thị Kim Hoa, Deputy Director General, MOLISA Department of Child Affairs + 84-4-37478424; email: vukimhoa67@gmail.com