A number of critical HR hurdles need to be overcome if Vietnam is to reach its goal of one million successful start-up enterprises by 2020, experts have warned.
Adrian Tan, programme director of the Vietnam Innovative Startup Accelerator (VIISA), said that while there are numerous cash-rich investment funds lining up to back promising Vietnamese start-ups, it was still too early given that 50 per cent of the country’s population of 93 million is under the age of 30 – many of them still in education.
VIISA was launched in November 2016 with the goal of investing in Vietnam-based start-ups led by local and foreign entrepreneurs who were particularly interested in B2C/B2B platforms, fintech and insurtech (insurance sector technology).
“The younger generation has good ideas and benefits from the education system’s strong focus on maths, science and technical skills, which has made them attractive for investors. But as the nascent ecosystem needs time to mature, many start-ups are struggling to find talent with a global mindset,” said Tan.
“And we often see that young Vietnamese talent leave for the US$100 they get paid elsewhere, a phenomenon HR can only counter by thinking beyond monetary compensation,” he added.
Tan said that companies are turning toward “Google-style” flexibility in terms of working hours and dress code and are opening their offices in prime city centre locations.
Thanh Le, director at recruitment firm Adecco Vietnam, warned that start-ups which fail to hire an in-house HR expert early enough risk losing out on talent, as many of their competitors have bigger employer brands, a well-known reputation and more resources.
Thanh also pointed out that an in-house HR expert is often needed to navigate a start-up through labour law compliance risks and to prevent a high turnover rate with the resulting cost of finding and hiring new employees.
“From the perspective of an HR professional, when you start working as a recruiter for a start-up, you will work under tremendous pressure and in a more fast-paced style as vacancies are opened and closed in a short amount of time,” said Thanh.
Although attention on Vietnam’s start-up scene centres on the male-dominated tech sectors, the government is aiming for 35 per cent of the one million start-ups to be led by women.
Statistics from the Vietnam Association of Women Entrepreneurs show that the number of female business leaders in the country increased to 91,000 in 2015, from 65,000 in 2010, meaning Vietnam has the highest proportion of female leadership in Asia. Vietnam was also ranked among the top 10 countries most suited for female-founded start-ups in a report from Mastercard released in April 2017.
“The increasing number of women getting involved in start-ups helps develop their working culture and the environment becomes more appealing to, and suitable for, women with technical skills,” added Thanh.
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