In the morning, January 06th, 2021, the General Statistics Office of Viet Nam (GSO) hold a press conference to announce the report on labour and employment of the fourth quarter and in 2020. Mr. Pham Quang Vinh – Deputy Director General of GSO chaired the press conference. Delegates attending this event were Ms. Valentina Barcucci – Deputy Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Country Office in Viet Nam in Hanoi; representatives of ministries and agencies; representatives of departments of GSO; representatives of press agencies in Hanoi. The press conference was online with 63 provincal Statistical Offices.

At the conference, the GSO announced the statistics on labour and employment of the fourth quarter and in 2020 and the report on the impacts of the Covid-19 epidemic on labour and employment situation in Viet Nam. According to the report, an outbreak of acute respiratory infections caused by a new strain of the Corona virus (Covid-19) broke out and spread globally, and seriously affected the world economy in 2020. However, the labor and employment situation in the fourth quarter of 2020 has had many positive changes, the income of employees tends to increase compared to the previous quarters. Although the working-age unemployment rate of the urban area in the fourth quarter decreased over the third quarter, it remained at the highest level in the past 10 years.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, the labor force continued to increase following the recovery momentum of the third quarter of 2020 but still could not return to the state of the same period last year; the rate of trained workers increased over the same period last year, reaching 24.6%. Generally in 2020, the labor force aged 15 and higher reached 54.6 million people – a decrease of 1.2 million people compared to 2019. In the period of 2016-2019, the average annual labor force increases by 0.8%. In the context of a similar growth rate as in the 2016-2019 period and there is no Covid-19 epidemic, Viet Nam’s economy will have 1.6 million more workers. In other words, the Covid-19 epidemic may have deprived 1.6 million people of the opportunity to enter the labour market.

In quarter IV of 2020, the number of employed people aged 15 and higher is nearly 54 million, a decreas by 945 thousand people compared to the same period of the previous year. Among them, the employed people in urban area is 17.6 million – a decrease by 90.2 thousand people. That in rural areas is 35.9 million – a decrease by 854.3 thousand people compared to the same period of the previous year. The number of employed people aged 15 and higher is 53.4 million people, a decrease of 1.3 million people compared to 2019

The average monthly income of employees in the fourth quarter of 2020 is 5.7 million VND, increased by 212 thousand VND compared to the previous quarter and decreased by 108 thousand VND compared to that in the same period of the previous year. In 2020, the average income of workers was 5.5 million VND, a decrease by 2.3% compared to 2019 (an equivalent of 128,000 VND). Workers in the service sector are most strongly affected in terms of income, with a decline at 215,000 VND. They are followed by those in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries with a decrease of 156,000 VND. Those in industry and construction suffer from lowest income reduction, at 100,000 VND person/ month.

The working-aged unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2020 is 2.37%, a decrease of 0.13 percentage points from the previous quarter and an increase of 0.33 percentage point against the same period last year. The rate in urban areas was 3.68%, a 0.32 percentage point lower than the previous quarter and a 0.78 percentage points higher than the same period last year. Covid-19 epidemic has made the highest unemployment rate of the working age population in the fourth quarter of 2020 in comparison with the same period in the past 10 years. The unemployment rate in 2020 will be 2.48%, a 0.31 percentage point higher than that in 2019. The number has it at 3.88% for the urban area, a 0.77 percentage point increase compared to that of 2019.

Results from Labour and Employment Survey throughout the quarters in the year have showcased that Covid-19 has exerted negative impacts on workers in entering the labour market and income generation. As the Covid-19 pandemic is becoming more complicated, with a new variant quickly spreading, it is expected that the pandemic will bring about unpredictable influence on the lives and production activities of the people. To actively respond to the the pandemic to ensure proper control while promoting production, it is crucial that policies be conducted in a synchronous manner as follows.

Firstly, it is advisable to focus on solving difficulties for businesses, while improving the procedures to support businesses in approaching support schemes in a more convenient manner. This is also to stimulate the economy, as well as to stimulate the needs for labour. These measures not only support businesses and workers out of bankruptcy possibilities, income loss and reduction, but they also serve as a springboard to promote business and production.

Secondly, it is advisable to carry out tailored and customized support package, with diversification of of vocational training and upskilling programmes targeting different beneficiaries, especially female workers, non-professionally/technically trained workers, and informal workers. This is to ensure their social well-being and encouraging them to continue working and contribute to economic recovery and development.

Thirdly, there is now about 75% workers in Viet Nam’s labour market who are not technically trained. This is a disadvantage to the country’s economy, considering that the pandemic is still spreading and Industrial Revolution 4.0 is happening globally. Low quality in labour force remains a hurdle to Viet Nam in adopting to and catching up with new technology trends and new ways of conducting businesses in the world. Thus, it is necessary that Viet Nam conduct training and re-training policies in the coming time to improve the quality of human resource in response to the requirement of economic development and growth.