Setting quantitative targets, mobilizing resources

A first step in the solution of these problems would simply be to provide new resources or redirect already available resources. This can be done in coop- eration between institutions at the local and central levels of government, where the initiative rests with the educational establishments. But the qualita- tive aspects of any policy-measure, which are equally important, has to be based on analyses of how the labor market for this highly specialized work- force will develop in the near future. This was underlined in our previous report.

Such a type of manpower planning is rather complex and difficult to perform and may have to include an analysis of the local and regional differences within Vietnam; priorities and planning objectives should not simply be transferred from technically more advanced countries. The other interest groupings, the ones outside of the government sector, have to be involved in discussing the most urgent matters and in setting some of the priorities.

What has happened on the Vietnamese labor market for IT-skilled persons is a rather quick diversification of the IT jobs. Like in the technically more advanced countries, the job structure has developed and will surely continue to develop and lead to a further specialization or division of labor among computer specialists. A recent study (1) , which will be further discussed later in this report, sets a target for the next 5-6 years for education and training to 1 500 "systems analysts", 500 "program managers" and 3 000 programmers. The calculation of these numbers was made by comparing the number of IT personnel per thousand inhabitants in different countries.

We agree that specific targets are set, also for different categories of IT personnel, but find it more appropriate to link these quantitative targets with the existing resources at each of the major training centers, including the major universities. By doing this, the means for implementing the plans will be easier to identify and improve.

The training of the different categories of IT specialists will have to be organized quite differently for the different categories of personnel. Ob- viously, there are special requirements in skill-formation for programmers, systems analysts, operators of mini-computers and computer networks, engineers and technicians for hardware maintenance, etc. Furthermore, new skills are needed for new types of programming tasks and other software developments. The time needed for the training will also vary substantially between job functions.

We suggest that a small group of experts on education and training will look into the proposed targets to suggest ways in reaching them using different organizational solutions. The new agency for the implementation of the national IT program could monitor the current IT labor market and explore needs for highly-specialized personnel among different sectors in society for the next 2-3 years. If necessary, the agency might suggest cross- sectoral coordination to design better courses and training facilities. The migration between sectors of different types of IT experts such as experienced systems analysts might also be facilitated.

In the current educational planning more attention should be given to the major areas for practical applications of information technology, certainly so for industrial application areas, but also for others. This will have to be related to the availability of specialized training programs.

Four years ago, we discussed a medium-term solution to the lack of qualified manpower in computer science and informatics, namely to set up separate schools for informatics in the major cities. This would not substitute the university-based courses but permit medium-term training with a specialization in selected areas of application. Without government planning, this has actually happened: In the last few years, many private initiatives were taken to respond to the demand for these specialized IT-related courses. We see this a sign of the times: Where government does not act, there will be room for other players to step in.

However, to avoid a more serious manpower shortage in this area, government could act as a facilitator, an active partner which coordinates its policies for industry and education better than before and provides guidelines and inspiration to the other players, who will not always look to what-could- be-called the national interest.

Foot Notes:
  1. UNISYS, A strategic review of national information technology development, Vol 1, Hanoi, 1993, p. 15

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