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Vietnam has 'an awful lot of IT talent': Australian innovation centre leader

Vietnam has 'an awful lot of IT talent': Australian innovation centre leader

Friday, May 17, 2024, 13:36 GMT+7
Vietnam has 'an awful lot of IT talent': Australian innovation centre leader
Howard Silby, general director of NAB Innovation Centre Vietnam. Photo: Nghi Vu / Tuoi Tre

The shortage of human resources in the information technology sector is concerning in many countries, including Vietnam. However, according to Howard Silby, general director of NAB Innovation Centre Vietnam, the current lack of IT professionals presents only a short-term challenge while the Southeast Asian country’s IT workforce has demonstrated stupendous growth and potential.

On May 9, Silby sat down with Tuoi Tre News to discuss manpower issues in Vietnam, as well as the role of Australian businesses in building a sustainable human resource pool in the nation.

Australian businesses see Vietnam as an ideal IT talent provider – one of the many reasons the bank decided to expand its NAB Innovation Centre Vietnam with a new office in Ho Chi Minh City last month.

What is your assessment of the potential of Vietnam's IT workforce?

We are a subsidiary of NAB but operate as a stand-alone Vietnamese company. We help deliver great digital experiences for NAB customers. Vietnam is a tremendous market for us to be in, which is something we recognized about five years ago.

We think there is an awful lot of IT talent here. Over 50,000 IT students graduate each year in Vietnam.

Like many banks, we used to outsource a lot of our IT work to companies like Capgemini, Accenture, and IBM. Historically, a large part of our tech workforce has consisted of non-NAB employees, which is typical for the banking industry.

We eventually made the conscious decision that we actually wanted to have our own tech workforce and part of that was creating two centres: one in India and one in Vietnam.

We are very happy with the talent that we have hired here. We are seeing tremendous productivity in Vietnam.

How do you think businesses like NAB can contribute to efforts to improve the quality of Vietnam's IT workforce?

That is something we really want to be a part of. Obviously, Vietnam and Australia have upgraded their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership. One aspect of that partnership covers technology and digital innovation.

We know there are other Australian organizations here in Vietnam, particularly strong education organizations, but we see ourselves at the forefront of trying to help that partnership between Australia and Vietnam when it comes to digital skills and technology skills.

We carry out lots of training and a lot of internships, but we also want to do more and better understand initiatives from the government so that we can better help with their agenda.

We hope to see more two-way exchanges between the two countries.

According to TopDev, by 2025, Vietnam will need an additional 150,000-200,000 IT professionals each year. What do you think the government needs to do to solve this issue?

From what I have seen, the Vietnamese government is focusing on all the right things.

The fact is that they have a very clear focus on innovation and digital technologies. That is a tremendous thing.

If there is a way to do more vocational training and more partnerships between universities and workplaces like ours, then I think that would help bridge the gap in terms of the skill shortage.

What we do know is that, typically in the past, the skills shortage sounded quite alarming but the market shifted to fill that gap. I believe that this will not be a problem for Vietnam in the long term and it will find those skills. There may be a very short-term bump.

What we have seen here is for our young graduate technologists, it is incredible how quickly they can learn new skill sets. Obviously, we use a huge range of modern technology tools and coding languages, but young people tend to quickly learn new skills that they might not have picked up during their university education. 

So, I think we can actually fill the gaps quicker than we think.

Can you elaborate on the future goals of the NAB Innovation Centre in Vietnam?

Our goal is to continue to be productive and to produce fantastic solutions for our customers. We want to attract and retain top talent to help us achieve that.

We are also considering other services that we could provide to NAB as well, including digital marketing or helping NAB with other aspects of its operations. All that is a reflection of the fact that NAB is really delighted with what we are doing. We are also looking forward to expanding, not just in Ho Chi Minh City but also in Hanoi.

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Nguyen Hanh / Tuoi Tre News

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