Vietnam battles to meet rising IT demand

January 4, 2002

Vietnam is stepping up efforts to train more than 15,000 information technology teachers in a desperate bid to meet development goals set for 2005.

The acute teacher shortage is a major hurdle to improving the country's IT labour pool, which remains insufficient in terms of quantity and quality.

Vietnam is hoping to boost the number of IT professionals in the country from 10,000 to about 50,000 by 2005.

But Thai Thanh Son, chief of Hanoi Open University's information technology department, said that the lack of properly trained IT teachers across the country would render such targets unreachable.

"The country needs more IT teachers in both secondary schools and universities and we will struggle to find the 15,000 to 20,000 teachers required by 2005," he said.

Demand for IT training is running high in Vietnam as the country tries to establish itself as an offshore software development centre along the lines of India.

The lure of relatively high local salaries in the IT sector is putting enormous strain on training courses, which are ill-equipped to cope with the demand.

In the current academic year, the number of students enrolling on university IT programmes leapt by 1,200, bringing the number to 8,000.

Many students will have to endure poor facilities and teaching methods as well as outdated IT curricula. As a result, Vietnam is looking more and more to the private sector and overseas providers to bring IT training up to international standards.

Dan Stern, director of Research Vietnam, a Ho Chi Minh City-based company that is preparing a report on IT in Vietnam, said that the private sector held the key.

"A number of overseas providers are setting up shop in Vietnam. That will improve the standard of IT education. Global giants such as Siemens, Cisco, Aptech, NIIT and academic institutions such as Australian University RMIT, are all providing state-of-the-art courses and more will follow.

"The emerging middle class in Vietnam still cannot afford to send their children overseas to study IT, but courses taught onshore by overseas providers are a realistic and viable alternative," he said.

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