Vietnam has a population of over 90 million,the third largest ASEAN country,and an average age of 30 years old meaning the country’s metropolitan areas like Ho Chi Minh City offer an exciting future with enormous potential for continued economic growth in the upcoming years. Meeting the recruitment needs of this fast-growing market's employers, however, is a challenge. And it can’t be done without foreign talent living here.
This is especially true for some of Saigon’s key industries: IT, engineering, hospitality and construction. The companies in these sectors are having a hard time finding qualified candidates in the domestic market, in particular for higher positions in the management level, which leads employers to look to expatriates in hiring.
With its relatively high pay and ease of entry, education is an attractive sector for expats. Various international and local schools are looking for foreign teachers to meet the demand of the young Vietnamese generations who often start learning English in toddlerhood.
Lastly, NGOs are a good opportunity for anyone who wants to give back to the country that is welcoming them.
Finding a job in Ho Chi Minh City is fairly easy for foreigners. On the one hand, this is due to the ever-expanding Vietnamese economy. Another reason is the structure of the domestic labour market.
After more than eight years as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the reality is that Vietnam’s workforce still does not always meet the qualification requirements of local and foreign enterprises. Generally speaking, most middle managers (for example, directors or department managers) are Vietnamese. There are a few Vietnamese, however, in foreign-invested enterprises that have risen to the senior leadership. The talent pool of appropriately qualified Vietnamese executives is small.
Nevertheless, the government tries to encourage companies to give priority to the local workforce by setting employment conditions for expats that are more strict than for Vietnamese. Like in Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia, employers are supposed to prove that the international candidate has a skill set which can’t be found on the domestic market in order to hire them.
Expats need a business or work visa before starting to work in Vietnam, and have to be registered with the tax department.
Despite these hurdles, legal work is possible through a relatively easily obtained work permit and Vietnam’s firms are receptive to would-be millennial employees. With the rising demand of managerial positions, Vietnamese workers are required to have high qualifications along with English language proficiency. Foreign workers on the other hand are more frequently required to speak Vietnamese.
If you’re looking for a job in Saigon, best is to browse the relevant online recruitment websites, connect with local recruitment agencies or contact international chambers of commerce and associations to build up a network.