Ho Chi Minh City struggles to attract talented people

After 5 years of piloting, Ho Chi Minh City attracted 19 scientists to work, but then 14 people left. In the past three years, the units have not recruited any experts.

In 2014, the policy of “rolling out the red carpet to invite talents” according to Decision 5715 of the city helped the Ho Chi Minh City Biotechnology Center (referred to as the Biology Center) under the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to attract 4 experts, including one in Vietnam and 3 overseas Vietnamese from Canada, Australia and the US.

Experts have helped the Center for Biology establish and form a number of new programs such as nano and materials biotechnology; molecular biology, especially in setting the direction of cancer research; supporting the unit with many articles published in prestigious scientific journals… These were all very new fields in Ho Chi Minh City at that time.

“However, after 5 years, when the pilot program ended, the teachers all quit because the income of the official program was too low,” said Dr. Nguyen Dang Quan, director of the Biology Center. In 2020, the center wanted to recruit three more experts, but no one applied.

The experts work to help the Biotechnology Center of Ho Chi Minh City.  Photo: HCMBIOTECH

Experts work at Ho Chi Minh City Biotechnology Center. Image: HCMBIOTECH

Decision 5715 to attract experts was issued by Ho Chi Minh City in 2014, applied for 5 years to recruit talented people for key fields. The expert then enjoys an agreed-upon income of not more than 150 million VND per month; profit sharing on research products; financial support for seminars and many incentives on entry, exit, tax, housing, support for relatives…

During the 5 years of piloting, Ho Chi Minh City attracted 19 scientists to work. From 2019, the program moves to the official stage by Decision 17 of the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City with many changed policies.

Accordingly, experts, scientists and people with special talents receive many benefits such as: initial allowance of 100 million VND; income according to the state salary coefficient; receive 1% of scientific research projects using the state budget, up to a billion VND; support housing, vehicles…

However, the official project in 2019 did not retain the old talent. 14/19 experts who previously participated have left, including 4 experts from the Center for Biology. The program also does not attract new people, so from 2019 to now, Ho Chi Minh City has not attracted any new talent even though it wants to recruit 20 positions.

Dr. Hoang The Ban, senior expert of Ho Chi Minh City High-Tech Park (SHTP) – the only one who has remained until now (4 other scientists have not been able to come to Vietnam to sign a contract with SHTP due to Covid-19). believes that the remuneration regime and the attraction process are barriers that prevent experts from being interested.

The most obvious change he noticed was income disparity. Specifically, in the 2014 program, experts can get the highest salary of 150 million VND by the city. But with the 2019 program, talented people, experts with the rank of professor and associate professor are entitled to level 2 (coefficient of 9.4), receiving 14 million VND per month; the remaining cases receive more than 13 million VND per month.

“This salary is much higher than the common level of the public sector, but in reality, it is only equivalent to the income of an engineer working for a foreign enterprise, too low compared to the regional expert standards and world,” he said.

Dr. Hoang The Ban, senior expert at Ho Chi Minh City Hi-Tech Park.  Photo: Thu Hang

Dr. Hoang The Ban, senior expert at Ho Chi Minh City Hi-Tech Park. Image: Thu Hang

In addition to the initial support of 100 million VND, Dr. Ban did not receive any other benefits. He is not in the group that enjoys the 1% bonus of the city’s scientific research projects because he is in charge of training and recruiting according to the needs of businesses, not doing projects using state funding.

Besides income, the rather complicated recruitment process through many stages is also an obstacle for applicants. If the pilot phase, Dr. Ban only takes two months from applying to starting work, with the official program, it takes him two years to sign the contract.

“The 5-step process and through many stakeholders such as the Selection and Attraction Council chaired by the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Home Affairs, the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, the beneficiary can be frustrating for many people.” , Dr. Ban said.

With the same opinion, Dr. Nguyen Dang Quan said that the cumbersome selection procedure, through many steps, especially experts must come to report, show capacity, and interview are unreasonable requirements. Because, experts are often successful people, have a certain reputation, if they wanted them to quit their current job to work for a city where the cumbersome process and unattractive regime are difficult to attract.

Mr. Huynh Thanh Nhan, Director of the Department of Home Affairs – an agency that advises on attracting experts to the City People’s Committee, acknowledged the fact that talented people have not been invited because some agencies are inexperienced and have not fully prepared solutions. methods, leading to not attracting scientists at home and abroad.

Besides, according to Mr. Nhan, experts have many opportunities, so they often prioritize research institutes, universities and organizations in advanced countries. This puts pressure on the city to improve its image and create a scientific and technological research environment to invite talented people. In addition, the last three years of the impact of the pandemic caused the city to not hire any more specialists.

Evaluating the results of Ho Chi Minh City’s talent attraction program, Chairwoman of the People’s Council Nguyen Thi Le said that this is a good and complete policy, but compared with the market mechanism, income and capital sources are very difficult to attract. She asked the City People’s Committee to evaluate practical results to propose appropriate policies to attract gray matter and deserve the efforts of experts and scientists.

“At least to ensure a life in Ho Chi Minh City, but that level is really difficult to attract, but also difficult to retain. Life in the city with a high standard of living without guarantee is very difficult for them to work with me” , she said.

In 2022, the talent attraction program under Decision 17 of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee will expire with the validity of Resolution 54 – the basis for building this project. The city is studying to develop a new policy in a draft replacement resolution, expected to be submitted to the National Assembly at the end of the year.

Thu Hang

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