While workers coming from other provinces and cities have inundated Ho Chi Minh City for many years, the reverse is true among aspiring young Saigonese who choose to take rewarding jobs in companies, mostly foreign ones, in other provinces. On any given day, buses carry staff from across the city to industrial parks located in the neighboring provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai as well as other provinces including Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Long An, some 30 and 90 kilometers away from the metropolis.
Luxury cars also stop to pick up one or two employees.
On one recent work day, Chin, 37, from Binh Thanh District, parked his motorbike at a lot near Hang Xanh Flyover in the same district before hurrying to nearby Dien Bien Phu Street in time for the company bus.
Chin is working as a department head with Crown, a U.S. company housed inside Tam Phuoc Industrial Park in Bien Hoa City, the capital of Dong Nai Province.
Chin quit his previous job at the Saigon Hi-Tech Park, situated in District 9, Ho Chi Minh City, for this one, which offers him a more senior position and better pay.
The man, whose wife and children are working and studying in Ho Chi Minh City, revealed that he initially struggled with the work schedule, getting up at 6:00 in the morning and spending around two hours on the bus to work and back, and even longer if there were traffic jams.
“I’ve become used to it now and feel happy doing what I’m passionate about,” Chin said.
Meanwhile, Minh Son, 30, of Go Vap District, is head of a production team for a German mechanical engineering company, whose factory is located at Long Thanh Industrial Park in Dong Nai.
He finds working alternate day and night shifts, plus approximately four hours worth of commuting, the most taxing part of his job.
Son, however, also acknowledged the noticeable benefits his job offers him, including a good salary and applying his major in a dynamic, professional environment with young colleagues.
Staff members can also have a quick snack and drinks before every shift with cakes, bread, noodles, milk and coffee readily available for free in the canteen, he added.
Son said after five years on the job, he has been biologically adjusted to getting up as early as 4:00 am for the morning shifts, which start at 6:00, and usually dozes off during the one-hour commute to work to refresh his energy.
Those who arrive late for the company bus with an acceptable personal excuse are eligible for a free taxi ride to their workplace.
A group of seven youths who work in different departments at the Nhon Trach branch in Dong Nai of South Korean steel producer Posco have become close friends after riding on the same company bus to work every day for nearly a year.
One of them, Quan, 24, said though the company offers accommodation nearby, most employees choose to commute every day as “it is more fun in Ho Chi Minh City, where we live with our parents and have many friends.”
“It has been increasingly difficult to land a good job at such a large foreign company as Posco due to fierce competition from many other applicants,” Tri, another group member, explained.
“Many unwilling to commute over a long distance resort to jobs which involve majors other than theirs. We are not hesitant to take on promising jobs no matter how far away the companies are,” he noted.
One of the gathering places of company buses is pictured on Dien Bien Phu Street in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Likewise, B.T., 32, said that she had never envisioned herself working anywhere more than five kilometers away from the city’s heart.
Though able to get a job in human resource management in Ho Chi Minh City, she opted to work at an animal feed company whose factory is based in Binh Duong Province, around 30 kilometers from the city center.
“Apart from good pay and benefits, I find working at the factory with its entire system of departments really constructive to my human resource managerial job and thus preferable to a mere office job in Ho Chi Minh City,” she explained.
Many young employees at companies headquartered in the southern metropolis are also willing to take multiple business trips to further provinces, even Hanoi and other northern and central localities.
Alongside Vietnamese staffers, groups of young foreigners serving their internships at multinational corporations are a common sight.
Magali Payet, a 22-year-old student of Ecole des Mines, a French engineering school, and her two female friends were one day waiting to be picked up and taken to French multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi’s factory in District 9, Ho Chi Minh City.
She said the trio came to Vietnam over a month ago as part of the corporation’s six-month internship program.
They stayed at a small hotel in the downtown area and caught the public bus to Hang Xanh, where they were picked up by the company bus every day, while going sightseeing around the city on weekends.
“It’s a norm for French students to work in other countries, where they test themselves out in different environments,” Payet stressed.
Tran Anh Tuan, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Labor Market Information and Job Forecasting Center, noted that the trend of labor movement had become increasingly common among Ho Chi Minh City youths over recent years, in tandem with the regional economic integration among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The trend also complements the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Cooperation (AEC) at the end of last year, with eight sectors in which workers can move freely between regional countries.
“Job opportunities offered by large companies in provinces neighboring Ho Chi Minh City are abundant. Young people, particularly fresh graduates, just need to be willing and bold enough to grab the opportunity,” Tuan pointed out.
According to Pham Van Cuong, of the Dong Nai Industrial Zone Management, native, highly-skilled staff are in short supply and fail to meet the establishment and expansion demands of most companies, mostly large-scale foreign direct invested (FDI) ones, located in local industrial parks.
Nguyen Hoang Cong, personnel manager of South Korean steel making giant Posco’s branch in Phu My 2 Industrial Park, located in Tan Thanh District in Ba Ria-Vung Tau, revealed that out of its 700 staff members, 60 managers and engineers were from outside the province.