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Connecting VET institutes with enterprises – Experience after the reform of the Vietnamese VET law

Vu Xuan Hung

Within the new Vietnamese Law on Vocational Education and Training (VET), coming into effect on 1st July 2015, many important issues have been institutionalized that change the VET system. After a brief overview on the major reforms, this article will focus under the aspect of work-based learning on the cooperation between VET institutes and enterprises in Vietnam.

Overview on the major reforms of the Vietnamese VET system

According to the Education Law 2005 and the Law on Vocational Training 2006, the national education system of Vietnam comprises two parallel VET qualification pathways – at both secondary and collegial level – that were managed by two separate state management agencies. This caused difficulties in developing the entire VET system. As a result, the introduction of the VET Law 2014 has restructured the Vietnamese national education system and changed the VET system in a comprehensive manner. The new system comprises three levels of vocational training: elementary, secondary, and collegial levels (cf. Figure 1). These levels of vocational training are managed by a single management agency, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), instead of MOLISA and Ministry of Education and Training, before. (cf. VU XUAN HUNG 2014).

Figure 1: Viet Nam national education system (2)
Figure 1: Viet Nam national education system

The main features of the VET Law will be explained subsequently:

  • Reform of training curriculum: Previously MOLISA was in charge of issuing framework curricula for every occupation at intermediate and collegial level. Based on those framework curricula, VET institutes had to develop detailed training curricula. With the new VET Law the framework curricula is no longer issued by MOLISA, but developed by VET institutes themselves, based on required labour market needs and the National Qualification Framework (NQF) (cf. Vietnamese Prime Minister 2016).
  • Reform of the organization, training management: The new VET Law stipulates two new modes of training: module-based accumulation and credit-based accumulation. VET institutes have the rights to select the training mode that is suitable to their conditions.
  • Reform of testing, examination, graduation, and certification: Learners who follow the new training modes can obtain certificates without final examination if they have accumulated sufficient modules or credits. This is requiredfor the respective training programme. Learners who complete a training programme at diploma level are recognised as practical engineer or practical bachelor, depending on the training occupation.
  • Reform of learner policies: The reform of learner policies is considered as a solution for attracting and mainstreaming learners to VET. Learners are exempted from training fees if they
    • belong to a special target group,
    • are graduates of lower secondary school (grade 9)
    • enrole to the VET intermediate level, or
    • if they undertake occupations with low enrolment rate

      Moreover, learners will enjoy boarding policy if they belong to ethnic minorities, poor and pro-poor households, persons with disabilities.
  • Reform of policies for VET institutes: In the new VET Law, VET institutes, regardless of their status as public or private institutions, are entitled to apply for tenders, for training orders given by the state and for preferential loans from domestic or international projects. Furthermore they can participate in further training programs for trainers/teachers and management staffs funded by the government and enjoy preferential tax rate.
  • Reform of policy on connecting VET institutes with enterprises: Enterprises participating in VET activities enjoy equal rights and responsibilities. Enterprises have the right to establish their own VET institutes, to organize VET training programmes at elementary and continuous training mode, to provide internship programs, to develop curricula and to provide training delivery on their own. Along with VET institutes, enterprises may provide internship guidance, assess the learning outcomes, and provide collaborative training delivery at elementary, intermediate and collegial levels as well as continuous training upon orders from VET institutes and the government. In addition, enterprises are exempted from income tax for all VET-related activities they conduct (cf. Vietnam National Assembly 2015).

The Situation of VET institutes linked with enterprises

THE NETWORK OF UNDER-ENTERPRISE VET INSTITUTES

Of all 388 colleges, there were 46 colleges belong to enterprises which accounted for 11.8 per cent. Of 551 VET secondary schools 82 belong to enterprises which accounted for 14.8 per cent. Of 1,035 VET centres, 355 belong to enterprises that accounted for 34.3 per cent (cf. Figure 2) (National Institute for Vocational Education and Training (NIVET), 2017).

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Figure 2: Number of under-enterprises VET institutes

However, the number of under-enterprise VET institutes stays low and yet to satisfy the training demand of the enterprises. Moreover, under-enterprise VET institutes (including colleges and VET institutes) are normally only concentrated in certain large socio-economic areas. (cf. Figure 3).

Figure 3: Number of under-enterprises VET institutes by socio-economic regions (2)
Figure 3: Number of under-enterprises VET institutes by socio-economic regions

THE COOPERATION BETWEEN VET INSTITUTES AND ENTERPRISES UNDER THE CHANGES OF THE NEW VET LAW

In order to obtain information on the situation of cooperation between VET institutes and enterprises, in 2017, the National Institute for Vocational Education and Training (NIVET) and the Vietnam Chamber of Industry and Commerce (VCCI) jointly conducted two independent surveys at 79 enterprises and 88 VET institutes (cf. NIVET 2017).

According to the results of the survey, 32.8 per cent of the 88 interviewed VET institutes indicated a cooperation with enterprises on a regular basis whereas 6.9 per cent do not. Of the 79 surveyed enterprises, only 12.3 per cent; maintain regular cooperation with VET institutes and 46.2 per cent do not have cooperation relationship with any VET institutes.

Of the 79 surveyed enterprises, the most common form of cooperation is to offer internships in enterprises (25 enterprises) and to inform about their qualification requirements (17 enterprises). The participation of enterprises in developing occupational standards, qualifications and training modules as well as defining occupation profiles is very limited (two enterprises). The level of cooperation between enterprises and VET institutes varies among enterprises (cf. Figure 4).

Figure 4: Form of cooperation between VET institutes and enterprises (2)
Figure 4: Form of cooperation between VET institutes and enterprises

The results of the survey at 79 enterprises show that the most common reason why enterprises do not establish cooperation with VET institutes is they do not have training needs, as responded by 44 per cent of the surveyed enterprises. Besides this reason, 25 per cent explain that they do not have any specially appointed staff to work with VET institutes and about 15 per cent say they do not know how to establish contacts with VET institutes.

Meanwhile, the survey conducted by NIVET at 88 VET institutes discloses that 31 per cent of the surveyed VET institutes do not cooperate with enterprises mainly because they cannot establish contacts with enterprises; another 31 per cent explain that enterprises do not have the need to cooperate with them. In addition, many VET institutes do not cooperate with enterprises because they do not have special staff in charge of business cooperation (25 %).

SUCCESSFUL MODEL OF COOPERATIVE TRAINING BETWEEN VET INSTITUTES AND ENTERPRISES

In the recent years, some cooperative training models between VET institutes and enterprises were effective. These were:

  • the Project “Vietnamese-German Vocational Training Centre-Hai Phong Vocational Polytechnic College” in metal cutting/CNC occupation;
  • the “Cooperative Training Programme for Mechatronic Technicians of University of Technology Education (UTE) Hung Yen” in cooperation with two German companies,;
  • the Programme Field Activity “TVET for Skilled Workers in the Wastewater Sector” of Ho Chi Minh Vocational College of Technology.

These models are potent examples of strong linkage between VET institutes and enterprises. Under these piloted training model, apart from studying at school, learners conduct internships and get jobs at the enterprise. However, these models are merely within piloting scope and yet to be replicated to the whole system.

Best-practice Quality Advisory Board

With the support of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Nordic Union of Employers, Dong Nai College of High Technology (DCoHT) worked together with enterprises to establish quality advisory boards which aim at improving demand-oriented vocational training. The function of the Quality Advisory Board is to:

  • advise DCoHT on identifying qualification needs for the present and for the next three to five years from the side of VCCI, the enterprises and the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs( DoLISA);
  • identify training objectives and qualifications for each occupation;
  • propose changes in the curriculum aligned with the practice demand and international standards;
  • recommend criteria for training quality assessment;
  • propose time and location for students’ internship and job placement;
  • assess achieved results and suggest changes, if required.

Best practice demand-oriented occupational standards

Within the framework of the Vietnamese-German "Programme Reform of TVET in Viet Nam", LILAMA 2 International Technology College is supported in providing demand-oriented qualified VET based on occupational standards that were jointly developed with the business sector and are equivalent to German standards.

In 2016, LILAMA 2 made a significant step in developing occupational standards and cooperative training programmes for four industrial occupations in close cooperation with leading companies and professional associations in Viet Nam. These four occupations are

  • Mechatronics Technician,
  • Metal Cutting-CNC Technician,
  • Construction Mechanics Technician and
  • Industrial Electronics Technician.

The occupational standards reflect the demand of the Vietnamese business sector. German standards served as an international benchmark and were adjusted to the needs of the Vietnamese labour market. Strong involvement of Vietnamese professional associations and professionals of leading companies, supported by German experts, was one of the success factors.

Based on the occupational standards, comprehensive three-year cooperative training programmes were jointly developed with relevant stakeholders. In these training programmes, LILAMA 2 plays the role of a traditional vocational college for teaching common subjects and professional knowledge. Furthermore, the College has taken the role of an inter-company training center where fundamental occupational skills are trained by qualified practical teachers in its state-of-the-art equipped workshops. Practical skills and knowledge are trained during the three-year cooperative training programme mainly in the companies’ workshops with structured on-the-job training phases. The equivalence between the content of the occupational standards and cooperative training programmes and the corresponding German standards is confirmed by the Handwerkskammer [Chamber of Skilled Crafts] of Potsdam and of Erfurt, Germany.

COOPERATION BETWEEN STATE MANAGEMENT AGENCY, INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVE, AND ENTERPRISES

In order to strengthen the linkage between VET sector and enterprises on the basis of the new VET Law, DVET has signed cooperation agreements with some industry representatives, and some big enterprises to facilitate the cooperation between VET institutes and enterprise cooperation in training. It is a mechanism to improve the training quality effectively, sustainably, and facilitate the participation of enterprises into VET operation.

Overall assessment of the cooperation with enterprises

  • The legal framework on the rights and responsibilities of enterprises involved in VET, has not been introduced in practical. In fact, there is a lack of regulation if it comes to recruitment of skilled workers. A majority of enterprises adopts untrained labourers due to the nature of manufacturing jobs and low salary ranges.
  • Enterprises have not provided information about their annual labour demand for state management agencies of labour and VET as requested per regulation of the Labour Code and the new VET Law. This leads to the fact that labour supply from VET institutes does not meet the demand of enterprises.
  • On the one hand, enterprises do not actively engage with VET institutes. On the other hand, VET institutes stay inactive in connecting with the industry sector. Many enterprises are unaware of information, policies, and even benefits that they would get when involving themselves in the VET sector (e.g. many enterprises lack information on income tax exemption when engaging in VET).
  • VET institutes have to establish an industrial relation division to be more active in supplying a trained workforce for enterprises. Meanwhile, a part of VET trainees is reluctant to work if the distance between VET institutes and enterprises is big.

Some solutions to strengthen the connection between VET institutes and enterprises

The Strategy on the Development of Vietnam's Human Resources during 2011-2020 (cf. Vietnamese Prime Minister, 2011) defined “…connecting training institutions with enterprises, widening the modes of training delivery upon training orders required by the enterprises and attracting enterprises to join in human resources training operation (by funding training expenses, organization of in-company training, investing in facilities, etc.). The responsibilities of the enterprises towards human resources training should be institutionalized; … exercising preferential policies to encourage enterprises to invest in human resources training”.
In order to connect VET institutes with enterprises in a demand-driven way, some solutions should be taken into consideration:

  • Develop a legal basis to make the participation of both VET institutes and enterprises compulsory for human resources training, improving training quality, opening internship opportunities for VET trainees, and increasing funding to ensure training quality.
  • Decentralizing the network of VET institutes and classifying the VET institutes to train focal occupations to satisfy the demand for high-skilled worker in enterprises of advanced technology. At the same time, VET institutes that train popular occupations have to cover the demand for enterprises nationwide. The establishment of VET institutes, in-company training centers, especially those located at industrial zones should be encouraged. Accordingly, the model of “in-company training centers” emphasizes the role of enterprises in training delivery, especially when high-profile and skillful technicians take the role of trainers guiding their trainees by advanced equipment and facilities of the enterprises. Within this context, the training curriculum should be developed by both VET institutes and enterprises.
  • Improving training quality based on renovating other quality assurance elements such as trainers’ competency, curriculum, facilities, training equipment, etc.
  • The role of enterprises, employers, VET-related associations in developing strategies for VET development; developing trilateral cooperation among VET state management agencies, employer representatives (VCCI), and VET institutes to ensure a demand-driven VET operation.
  • Developing a sound labour market database to connect the training side with the demand side. Furthermore improving short-term, mid-term, and long-term labor forecast on the demand of human resources, jobs and training by industry, (7) Establish and strengthen the operation efficiency of industrial relation centers at VET institutes to bridge the labor training and labor hiring sides.
  • Promote communication strategies on the benefits for enterprises when engaging in VET to create awareness among them.
  • VET institutes should be more proactive in connecting with enterprises by various ways: Through internships for VET trainees, the assessing of learning outcomes for VET trainees at VET institutes, and the joint development of training curricula.

Conclusion

The new VET Law has set many changes, particularly the connection between VET institutes and enterprises. However, due to many reasons, this connection is still limited. Despite many new preferential policies for enterprises introduced in the new VET Law, there is a lack of interest in engaging in the VET sector among many enterprises. The above mentioned solutions are expected to address the ongoing difficulties in the connection between VET institutes and enterprises which will contribute to the improvement of training quality in Vietnam.

  • NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: Law on Vocational Education and Training (National Political Publishing House of Vietnam) 2015
  • VIETNAMESE PRIME MINISTER: The Strategy on the Development of Vietnam's Human Resources during 2011-2020. Decision No. 579/QĐ-TTg dated April 19th 2011
  • VIETNAMESE PRIME MINISTER: Decision No. 1982/QĐ-TTg dated October 18th 2016 on approving Vietnam National Qualification Framework. Hanoi 2016
  • DVET: The summary report on Vocational Education and Training 2017
  • NIVET: Vietnam Vocational Education and Training Report 2016 (Youth Publisher)
  • HUNG, VU XUAN: Draft of Law on Vocational Education and Training – Fundamental and comprehensive reforms. Journal of Vocational Training. 2014

VU XUAN HUNG
Dr., Director of Department of Formal Training, Ministry of Labour – Invalids and Social Affair, Vietnam