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Working in Vietnam?

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Alain Nguyen

Living in Vietnam, from France

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Vietnam at a Glance

Working in Vietnam

Do you consider taking advantage of Indochina’s developing job market and start working in Vietnam? Vietnam’s business world has some confusing odds and ends, which our Vietnam guide will help you figure out. Read on for information on the economy, work permits, and social security!

If you are planning on working in Vietnam, it is essential that you understand the country’s cultural values and traditions. Only then can you develop successful and strong business relationships. After all, cultural values are strongly reflected in business environments as well.

The country saw a lot of economic turmoil in the second half of the last century. The US-Vietnam war and the US trade embargo have left their traces. But the inefficient centrally planned economy is also partly to blame for the country’s economic weaknesses.

Vietnam’s Business World

While working in Vietnam, you will soon find that Vietnamese companies function in a hierarchical manner. Decisions are made at the top, and more often than not, it’s the oldest person in the company who is the main decision-maker. For that reason, you have to make sure to pay respect to your coworkers and business partners, especially if they are older than you.

Status is an important aspect in Vietnam’s business world and society. You achieve a certain status not through age alone but also through education when working in Vietnam. Simultaneously, Vietnam’s business world is dominated by men. Women traditionally occupy lower-status jobs. In companies with an international staff, men are, however, accustomed to working side by side with women and see them as equals.

The Economy

Currently, about 49 million people are working in Vietnam. 48% of them are employed in agriculture and 31% occupy jobs in the services sector. Main agricultural products are rice, coffee, rubber, cotton, tea, pepper and soy beans.

Many people working in Vietnam do so in one of the manufacturing industries like machine building, food processing or garment and shoe production. Shoes and clothes are also among the most common export products, aside from marine products, electronics, crude oil, rice and machinery. Vietnam’s economy still relies largely on the export of goods.

Although Vietnam has suffered from the recession in recent years, the government has taken measures to introduce a more market-based economy. These measures were supposed to trigger significant economic growth and turn Vietnam into an attractive destination for foreign investment, leading to more people working in Vietnam.

In 2011, the country reached one of the highest inflation rates, pushing the government to shift its economic focus to steadying Vietnam’s economy. As the country continues to face severe challenges, Vietnam’s government has implemented new reforms in early 2012 which focus on state-owned enterprises, public investment, and the banking sector. So far, this has hardly resulted in any positive changes.

Work Permits for Vietnam

To begin working in Vietnam, you need to acquire a work permit. You need to have a work contract and an employer who is willing to arrange the details for you. They will apply to the local Department of Labor, War Invalid & Social Affairs in their city in Vietnam. The documents you have to provide are as follows:

Of course, you will have to fulfill certain requirements to be eligible for working in Vietnam. Not only do you have to be at least 18 years of age, you also have to be fit to do the work you have applied for. The government also expects you to bring at least 5 years of experience or technical and professional qualifications to the table before you can start working in Vietnam.

While in recent years, many expats have entered on a business visa and started working without applying for a work permit, this practice now meets with little tolerance from government officials.

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