VCN – Design, trade, and brand are “key” for Vietnam’s wood processing industry to reach the export target of US$20 billion by 2025. However, to use this “key”, the quality of human resources plays a very important role.

remove manpower bottlenecks to increase surplus for wood industry
The lack of skilled labour makes it difficult for the wood industry to exploit high added value. In the photo: Labourers are working at the factory of AA Company in Long An. Photo: N.H

Exploiting intangible values

According to Mr. Nguyen QuocKhanh, Chairman of the Handicraft and Wood Association of Ho Chi Minh City (Hawa), in the green living trend, protecting theenvironment, limiting mineral materials such as concrete and metal, using wood products is increasingly popular because this material is renewable, contributing to environmental protection. Therefore, the wood industry will have more opportunities.

The values from design, trade and branding plays a vital role in competitiveness for Vietnam’s wood and furniture processing industry, but these are also three factors in whichVietnam is still limited. By doing this well, the wood industry’s goal of exporting US$20 billion by 2025 is completely within reach.

Wood processing enterprises share the same opinion that in the future, furniture exports may not increase rapidly in quantity, but they must increase in value. In fact, Vietnamese enterprises are doing very well in production, but they are not ready to invest in intangible values such as design, trade and branding.Therefore, if they want to improve, they have to start from changing the mindset, and then they can find the way. Indesign, for instance, Mr. Khanh suggested to focus on training or hiring designers, or buying designs from countries with strengths inthis. These intangible values are the foundation for entering a higher segment and achieving a larger surplus.

Human resources bottlenecks

Fortunately, the wood processing industry hashelp from the State, especially in the direction of building Vietnam to be the global interior designcentre. The State invests in building anational brand, so enterprises must be aware of their brand investment, proactively organise business by creating more value, developing orders, and diversifying markets. Wood enterprises will master the game, and confidently participate in the international playground with the leading role in the market.

Creating higher values means the wood processing industry places higher demands on human resources. This demand includes not only manuallabour, but also in all industries, from design – creativity to business, marketing, finance, and technology.With the trend of applying transformation technology, automation, and digitisation, the demand for high quality and skilled labour training for the wood processing industry will be huge.

Meanwhile, unskilled labouraccounts for 70 percent of the whole industry, which is difficult to exploit high added values. Trained workersaccount for about 30 percent. In addition, the FDI wave has led to an increase in labour demand.Statistics from the Foreign Investment Agency showed there were 67 newly registered FDI wood projects in the first nine months of 2019, with total investment capital of more than US$581 million, equivalent to 216 percent of the total new FDI capital. 40 percent of FDI enterprises find it difficult to recruit skilled workers, which increases competition.

Vietnam’s wood industry growth index has increased by 18 percent, requiring a proportional amount of labour to maintain this pace. However, the amount of well-trained labour force has not met businesses’ expectations, most of them have to retrain, especially manpower for modern technology, design, and production management. Therefore, the wood industry is in great need of the state’s cooperation in the direction of training and building human resources. By doing this, Vietnam wood industry will surely make long and stable strides in the future.

By Nguyen Hien/ Ha Thanh

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