Chapter 10
Manpower development: Education, training, re-training

Eight years ago, in southern Vietnam, there were not sufficient job oppor- tunities for academically trained computer scientists such as program specialists. Four years ago, in 1989/90, higher education institutions like the Computer Science Center of the University of HCM City could not meet the rising demand for training -- neither from the private companies wanting to hire programmers, nor from students wanting to study informatics and computer science. In the spring semester of 1989 there were five qualified applicants for each student place. Despite efforts to expand the educational facilities, and the introduction of evening classes, there were not enough places for all the students.

Four years later, in 1993/94, the situation has somewhat improved, but the number of student places are too few to meet the demand. Facilities for training using PCs and other machines can not meet minimum requirements. Among the interest groupings presented in Chapter 6 as members of a Vietnamese 'IT policy community', the higher education interest grouping is by far the weakest. It has never really reached the same degree of influence on the national IT policy as the two previous groupings. It may, however, gain influence on national IT policy in the near future. The fact is that both government and industry have realized the serious problems caused by too few computer scientists and engineers being trained to meet the raising demand of software and hardware specialists. Their qualifications, given the generally outdated equipment available at the educational institutions, has also been questioned. We have heard complaints that the universities -- and that includes the technical universities -- are 'hopelessly behind'.

Having visited the major universities in the Hanoi and HCM City areas, we are not at all sure that the situation is discouraging. Actually, our first- hand impression of some of the academic teaching done there, are -- in several of the cases -- very positive. Ambitious and energetic teachers, but inadequate, malfunctioning and outdated technical facilities.

Courses organized in the private sector, for instance at the Lotus College of Information Technology and Management in HCM City, is coming of age. 4-5 years ago, there were only a few meager experiments of privately organized academic teaching in informatics, e.g. at the privately-funded Thang Long University, Hanoi, which is still operating but in small scale and with very limited budget. Now, the technically most resourceful t.eaching, primarily in the form of vocational training and relatively short, highly specialized courses, is organized by private institutions. The training by the vendors of information and communications equipment is also increasing and attaining a much higher level of quality than just 2-3 years ago. Specialized seminars for Vietnamese IT experts are being organized by major vendors such as Compaq, IBM, DEC, and others..

The revitalization of old initiatives, like the "Institute Francophone d'Informatique," (IFI) (1) , is being further promoted through bilateral aid money from several countries. IFI, linked to the Polytechnic University of Hanoi, will be starting in 1994 and will be staffed by French-speaking teachers from Vietnam and from abroad. It tries to serve also at as a meeting place for computer professionals in the Hanoi area.

It is not possible for us to summarize the Vietnamese education and training efforts in the field of information technology. The picture is changing all the time and there are now so many different options of special- ized training, including vocational training, that nobody really can paint a representative overview even with a big brush. One thing is clear, however, the demand for teaching is much higher than the supply of teachers.

In short: The availability of specialized, highly-skilled personnel is still low in Vietnam. Improvements suggested and discussed long ago at different ministries,. including the Ministry of Education, have not been implemented -- probably because of lack of resources. Other manpower developments issues could also have been solved, given more resources.

Foot Notes:
  1. The first ideas in 1989 and 1990 was to create a separate university including a graduate school. Now, five years later, it has become a more realistic endeavor. Cf. the ideas in Miranda S & Nhan Le Thanh: "Rapport de la mission au Vietnam du 19 Decembre 1988 au 9 Janvier 1989", Valbonne: LISAN-CNRS, 1989-01-14.

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