Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tourism human resources in shortage, weak

VietNamNet Bridge – The high growth of the tourism industry recently has brought about the rocketing demand for human resources. Human resources are directly influencing service quality and the professionalism of the tourism sector.

Weakness in foreign languages

According to statistics of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the total number of workers in the tourism sector is around 850,000 at present, including 250,000 workers who directly serve tourists. However, only around 50% of them are trained.

The tourism sector needs an additional around 35,000 trained workers each year but training centres can provide only about one-third of the volume.

Besides weakness in terms of professional knowledge and skills, the largest disadvantage of Vietnamese tourism workers is foreign languages. Besides English, the major foreign language, Vietnamese tourism workers are also weak in other languages like Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

Specifically, the number of Korean travellers coming to Vietnam is increasing fast (ranking second after Chinese) but Vietnam currently has only 50 tour guides who can speak Korean. For the Japanese market, the third potential market of Vietnam, just 8% of tour guides speaking Japanese can fluently speak this language.

English: below standards

As part of a programme to raise the quality of the tourism human resources of Vietnam, the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) Vietnam has currently made a survey to test the English ability of some occupations in the tourism sector.

Based on the need of using English in each position, TOEIC Vietnam performed nearly 400 surveys of the need for English skills of nearly 200 hotels of three- to five-star standard and travel agents throughout the country. The major subjects of those surveys are directors, human resource managers and direct managers like team leaders who clearly understand the need for English of their staffs.

Random surveys of 1,000 workers at tourism companies reveal that the English skills of most of them are low and below the standards required by their employers.

The survey also points out that hotels of higher standard have high percentages of staffs that don’t meet standards in English.

According to Doan Hong Nam, director of the TOEIC Vietnam, the standards that we apply to evaluate the English skills of tourism workers is to ensure the minimum quality of service so the survey results show that the English skills of surveyed tourism workers is even lower than the low standards.

This is not only a hindrance for the development of the tourism sector but others as more and more foreign tourists are coming to Vietnam to seek business opportunities. Mr. Nam said that Vietnam needed to quickly improve the quality of the current tourism services by issuing common standards for foreign languages for each position in the tourism sector. This is a necessary foundation for the training tasks of training centres and tourism firms.