VietNamNet Bridge – HCM City has begun to make a stronger effort to retain overseas Vietnamese experts and scientists after many reportedly quit due to difficulties with living conditions and other problems.
Nguyen Dang Hung, a Vietnamese professor who lives in Belgium, talks at a meeting organised by HCM City’s Fatherland Front to welcome overseas Vietnamese home for the recent Tet celebrations. More incentives are needed to persuade talented overseas Vietnamese to return and work in their homeland.
According to the HCM City Statistics Bureau, more than 400 Viet Kieu (Overseas Vietnamese) experts returned to their homeland from around the world, over half of them to work for universities and colleges, technology parks, and hospitals.
But many quit their jobs just a few years due to problems they faced, Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper said.
The Sai Gon Hi-tech Park had at one time nearly 30 Vietnamese experts from the US, Australia, Canada, and Japan, but now only a few remain.
The HCM City Centre for Biological Technology lost 22 researchers in just 2012.
In the past two years the HCM City Hi-tech Agricultural Zone lost 32 including three with doctorates and seven with master’s degrees.
Sai Gon Giai Phong quoted Duong Hoa Xo, head of the zone, as saying: “There were many reasons for these experts quitting their jobs, mainly low salaries, lack of accommodation, and inadequate infrastructure.”
The “brain drain” has affected the application of modern equipment at these universities, institutes and hi-tech parks.
Modern machinery and equipment worth over US$10 million at the Sai Gon Hi-tech Park’s Centre for Research and Development remain idle because there are no experts to operate them.
Housing policy needed
Providing good accommodation is one of the measures to attract overseas experts and scientists back home taken by developed Asian countries like Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.
Besides providing them with comfortable homes, these countries also offer the overseas experts good wages.
The Sai Gon Hi-tech Park is a good example of why overseas Vietnamese experts quit. Several years after the park began operation, construction of houses for them has yet to start.
“We must provide a good living environment for overseas Vietnamese as the job they do is not like the paperwork done by an office worker,” Dr Hoang Ngoc Phien, chairman of the Amata Industrial Park in southern Dong Nai Province, said.
But Prof Nguyen Dang Hung, a Vietnamese from Belgium, said his colleagues would accept low salaries and inadequate infrastructure “provided they are respected and trusted and an accurate and fair assessment of their contributions to the country’s development [is done by] relevant authorities.”
Dr Phan Bach Thang, vice dean of the HCM City University of Natural Sciences’ materials study faculty, said: “If these difficulties are not addressed, it would be difficult to attract overseas Vietnamese experts and scientists back home.”
According to the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese, there are nearly 4.5 million Vietnamese living around the world, including 400,000 who have bachelor’s and higher degrees.
Most of them work in technology-related areas like electronics, biology, new materials, IT, aeronautics, and oceanography.