Sunday, 29/3/2020
Develop science and technology human resources for the fourth industrial revolution and deepened international integration
20/11/2018 14:50' Send Print
Hanoi Technology and Equipment Expo. Photo: VNA

According to statistics of the Ministry of Science and Technology, over the past 5 years (2011-2015), human resources for research and development increased from 134,780 to 167,746 people, accounting for 24.45%; the number of research staff increased from 105,230 to 128,997, reaching 22.6%. On an average, seven out of 10,000 people worked as full time researchers. Along with the increase in quantity, their contribution to socio-economic development has become more and more evident in all fields of science, technology, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.

Science, technique and technology have contributed to improving agricultural productivity and building new rural areas, making Vietnam the world's leading exporter of rice and a number of key agricultural and aquatic products. In industry and services, domestic scientific and technological forces have been able to successfully design and create many local technologies and equipments up to international standards, absorb and master new and high technologies in a number of essential fields, such as electricity, electronics, oil and gas, shipbuilding, construction, healthcare, information technology and communication. Some outstanding achievements include designing and constructing large hydropower plants, manufacturing hydraulic mechanical equipment, lifting machine, and jack-up rigs in water depths of 90m and 120m. Vietnam stands third in Asia and in the top 10 in the world to develop technology of shale oil exploitation, produces high-yield varieties, launches telecommunication and remote sensing satellites, masters technology in ship building, construction of underground works, high-rise buildings, cable-stayed bridges, highways of international standards, conducts successful multi-organ transplants and produces vaccines. Increased application of science and technology has also significantly contributed to the development of socio-economic regions, key economic areas, promoted advantages and potential of localities, and improved infrastructure for people in remote and ethnic minority areas.

In addition, Vietnam has made progress in basic research, creating a premise to form a number of new fields of science and technology such as cosmology, biomedicine, nanotechnology and nuclear science. Some natural sciences, such as mathematics and theoretical physics, have achieved high rankings in the ASEAN region. Social sciences and humanities have provided in time basis for making policy and lines on national development, perfecting the legal system, creating the premise for renewal of economic thinking, confirming the history of national formation and development, and conserving values and cultural identity of Vietnam.

It can be said despite the small scale and low potential of the economy, Vietnam has made encouraging progress compared with low middle-income countries in terms of scientific and technology level and capacity. Vietnam’s rankings in competitiveness, global innovation capacity, and in some science and technology areas of strength have risen as compared to other regional countries .

However, besides achievements, there remain limitations in scientific and technological human resources.

Though the number and training level of scientific and technological staff have increased, their quality is not on par, even lower. Many important scientific and technological fields have lacked leading experts, strong scientific teams, and organizations of international standards which are able to lead important national and international tasks or resolve crucial scientific and technological issues.

Contributions of human resources in science and technology to the implementation of objectives and tasks have not matched with potential and have not really helped improve productivity, growth quality and economic competitiveness of the country. The number of highly qualified and experienced scientists, especially in the priority areas of science and technology, and high technology, has decreased due to retirement. There is a serious shortage of outstanding scientists, and leading experts in research institutes and higher education institutions.

Team spirit, skills and group work collaboration of scientific and technological staff are weak. They are unevenly distributed, their structure and level are not suitable to regions, areas and field of operation. Most of them are currently working in the state sector, and few are in the private sector and businesses. A part of highly qualified scientific and technological staffs, especially, lecturers in higher education institutions do not directly involved in research and development. The number of highly qualified professionals carrying out scientific research is decreasing. Meanwhile, young scientists are not motivated to pursue long-term scientific career. As the current mechanism of appointing management officials is based on highly professional qualifications (academic titles, and degrees), some leaders who are professors, associate professors and PhDs spend most of their time on management and execution and less on scientific research.

There are many objective and subjective causes conducive to the above-mentioned limitations. So far, Vietnam has not had plan to train high-level scientific staff of priority scientific and technological; there is no linkage between training and planning of scientific and technological human resources. The education and training system have not met requirements of training high quality human resources, especially in advanced science and technology fields have not yet provided specialized training for scientific and technological cadres. Although the State has identified a number of priority sectors and technologies, full attention has not been paid to investment in training and retraining of human resources for these fields. There are no training courses and programs for those working in scientific research, technological development and scientific and technological management. Besides, the working conditions, remuneration and research equipment of many scientific and technological organizations have not met the requirements of research activities at international level. Democracy has not been effectively promoted for creative and academic activities. The State’s encouragement, guidance and promotion of creative activities towards the scientific community has been insufficient; space for creativity, development needs and research career is limited.

It can also be seen that the management mechanism for scientific and technological human resources over the past time has been inappropriate and there have been constraints. Most of the science and technology organizations are non-business units, but basically they have been managed with the same mechanism of administrative unit, without taking into account the particular characteristics of scientific and technological activities. Policies on attraction, use and incentive to scientific and technological staffs have been promulgated, but still very modest and without breakthrough. Therefore, they have not created a driving force for scientific and technological staffs, especially young and highly qualified talents. At present, Vietnam has not yet adequate policies to attract and use talents and intellectuals who are living and working in foreign countries in scientific research and technological development in Vietnam. There are limitations in the implementation of a number of new policies. Policies and mechanisms to mobilize and encourage human resources and investment from society and enterprises for scientific and technological human resource development are insufficient.

The existing policies on science and technology staff are egad incomprehensive and have not yet created motivation for and brought into full play the creative capacity of the scientific and technological intelligentsia, especially young talents and Vietnamese overseas. In the recent time, despite the promulgation of policies including those on using highly qualified, senior or talented scientists, there has been limited breakthroughs. Scientific and technological activities have been bound to administrative procedures, general regulations on financial mechanisms, and policy framework for civil servants in general. Scientific and technological activities are specific but the human resources regime in this field is not so different from other fields.

2. At present, the fourth industrial revolution and deep international integration have posed many problems for the development of Vietnam's science and technology human resources. Virtual intelligence, digital age, and the boom of interdisciplinary, intersectoral, cross-sectoral technologies of the fourth industrial revolution will not only bring about opportunities but pose great challenges to the building and developing human resources for science and technology. Machinery and artificial intelligence replacing human resources will inevitably lead to the need for low-paid, low-skilled workers rather than highly qualified human resources. So more than ever, scientific and technological human resource development is an urgent need.

Comprehensive international integration, especially economic, scientific and technological integration require the scientific and technological staffs to acquire global skills, update and keep up with new trends in science and technology. In addition, when the scientific and technological personnel of other countries move freely into Vietnam, new problems will arise. These include advantages, opportunities as well as difficulties and challenges for human resources in science and technology of Vietnam. It is necessary to develop a roadmap to prepare knowledge, skills and attitudes as well as psychology for scientific and technological personnel to adapt to global integration requirements. Due to differences in income and working conditions between Vietnam and other countries, scientific and technological "brain drain" is quite common in the context of international integration. This places a strategic need in building and developing human resources in science and technology to not only prevent "brain drain" but also to attract, engage and effectively connect with Vietnamese overseas who work in scientific and technological field to encourage their participation in and contribution to national socio-economic development. Building and developing a contingent of highly qualified, devoted, and righteous scientific and technological cadres must be identified as a "breakthrough" to develop the country under the strong influence of the fourth industrial revolution and international integration.

3- To create a breakthrough in the development of scientific and technological human resources to meet the country's development requirements in the new situation, it is necessary to carry out synchronously and systematically all-sided solutions from mobilizing resources, planning, training, fostering, employing and using scientific and technological personnel, specifically as follows:

First, raise awareness and renovate way of thinking of staff who are working in state management of science and technology, consider science and technology a specific type of labor and therefore, adopt appropriate thinking when developing and organizing the implementation of policies on scientific and technological human resources.

Second, develop a long-term strategy and vision on scientific and technological resources, implement systematically and scientifically plans on scientific and human resources development to overcome the shortage of high-quality scientific and technological human resources; orient and generate resources from general education, graduate and postgraduate training in branches and domains defined in association with strategies on scientific and technological development and socio-economic development. The identification of strategies on scientific and technological human resources training and development must be closely linked to the requirements of innovation, the fourth industrial revolution and international integration, focusing on cross-cutting disciplines, biotechnology, digital technology, automation, and global skills training.

Planning of scientific and technological human resources development must be closely linked with those of socio-economic development; establish and implement a stable relationship between enterprises and scientists in order to improve the application of scientific and technological products.

Third, step up the development of human resources in science and technology, including training and re-training in association with the use of talents in science and technology, adopt policies to nurture young scientists’ talent as source for leading scientists who devote to the cause of science and technology, and are capable of directing the settlement of major scientific and technological problems of the country.

Attach importance to sending scientific and technological staff to practice and work at international organizations, research institutes and universities of foreign countries, intensify bilateral and multilateral international academic exchanges, at the same time, build a research cooperation network with foreign scientists and expand training programs abroad so that science and technology officials have access and gain experience in international academic environment and be trained in international research and development activities. Issue a compulsory mechanism for re-training of scientific and technological personnel in each specific field.

Fourth, synchronously and comprehensively complete policies on science and technology human resources, especially high-quality personnel, including wage and income policies, honoring and recognizing contributions, favorable working living environment for individual scientists and their families, advanced research infrastructure, and healthy academic culture. Renovate mechanisms of salary and remuneration for scientists according to the practice of advanced countries in the region and the world.

Fifth, intensify the management, discovery, reception, and use of scientific and technological human resources from overseas students, excellent researchers and Vietnamese scientists abroad. At the same time, invest to the permissible extent in building a number of research facilities of internationally professional standards and practices, suitable with specific characteristics of scientific and technological activities to attract and retain outstanding scientists in the country and attract scientists from abroad. Reality shows that academic environment and professional research conditions are decisive factors to attract and retain good scientists. Therefore, it is necessary to enhance the cooperation activities in academic and international scientific exchange in order to update and raise the level of scientific and technological personnel of the country.

Sixth, efficiently step up socialization and mobilization of investment outside the State budget, especially from enterprises for training and fostering, developing scientific and technological human resources, potential, especially material and technical facilities of scientific and technological organizations, contributing to improving the working conditions for scientific and technological staff.

Vietnam runs the risk of lagging behind in terms of science and technology amid comprehensive international integration, globalization and rapid development of science and technology in the world. More than ever, Vietnam must take substantial comprehensive and synchronous solutions to develop scientific and technological human resources set by the Party’s resolutions and documents as investment in scientific and technological human resources is invest in sustainable development of the country; The Party and the State should be responsible for and adopt policies to develop, use and promote the creative potential of the contingent of science and technology personnel in service of the cause of industrialization and modernization of the country.

This article was published in the Communist Review No. 911 (September 2018)

Chu Ngoc Anh,Member of the Party Central Committee, Minister of Science and Technology