Vietnam’s tourism industry is growing rapidly. According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the country attracted roughly 8 million international tourists in 2015, with 35 million domestic tourists also taking holidays at home. With annual growth at 10 per cent, Vietnam expects to welcome 12 million foreign visitors and 48 million domestic travelers by 2020.
In recent years, Vietnam’s tourism industry has been in need of skilled workers, particularly in the Mekong Delta region. There are over 7,000 travel agents in the country, requiring a total of roughly 40,000 new employees each year. However, the number of students graduating from tourism-related programmes currently satisfies only about 60 per cent of the demand. According to statistics from the Human Resource Demand Forecast centre, 30-45 per cent of Vietnamese tour guides and tour operators do not meet the professional requirements for working in tourism or those for English language competency.
According to job market analysts, the workforce size required for the tourism industry is currently two to three times greater than that of education, health, finance, real estate, or IT. The Vietnamese tourism industry has set targets for 80 per cent of its labour force to undergo professional training to develop practical knowledge and skills.
At Dong Thap university, the faculty of Tourism and Culture is proving a popular choice amongst students. The faculty focuses on tourism in Vietnam, equipping students with knowledge relating to tourist attractions, hotels, and restaurants, enabling them to become competitive candidates in the job market. Soft skills and English will also be taught.
According to a survey of students studying the programme at Dong Thap university in 2015, nearly 90 per cent of the total number had been hired, many of whom had received job offers whilst still at university.
Nguyen Trong Minh, head of Dong Thap university’s Faculty of Tourism and Culture, says: “In order to meet the strict requirements of the job market, students must make wise decisions regarding their education path. They should choose a university that can equip them with the requisite qualifications and professional skills, with affordable tuition fees.”
Gaining employment at Tram Chim national park’s Tourism and Environmental Education Centre immediately after graduating, Nguyen Chau Xuan Minh says that he recognises and appreciates the knowledge and skills he acquired through attending the university’s tourism programme. “Thanks to those skills, I feel confident in my new role. However, I still need to keep learning and gaining further experience so I can contribute more to the development of Dong Thap’s tourism,” he shares.
As well as the graduate programme, Dong Thap province has also established a culture and tourism centre in the Mekong (see www.mekongctc.com), to promote provincial tourism. The centre is responsible for consulting, building, and executing cultural tourism projects; researching and developing new tourism products suitable for both domestic and international tourists; and providing training courses and English classes for employees at tourism-related organisations and businesses.
The centre provides training courses and organises internship programmes for domestic and international students. High achieving students are also put forward for positions with successful tourism agencies. “The Centre will not only provide students with opportunities to experience a real working environment, it will also support those who wish to start up their own business,” explains associate professor, PhD Nguyen Van De, president of Dong Thap university.