Ho Chi Min City, also informally known as Saigon, is Vietnam’s largest city by population, with a bustling tourism scene, with 5 star hotels in Saigon being fairly commonplace due to the high tourist traffic that goes into the city. Naturally, this high tourist traffic has led to the city having a higher demand for qualified tourism staff, which has led to a bid of a staffing problem.

According to Vietnam’s National Tourism Administration, the city’s tourism sector needs a lot of new skilled workers for the industry’s labour pool, approximately 40,000 new workers ever year. A demand which wasn’t even close to being met last year, with only 15% of workers joining the tourism sector, with a mere 12% of that having a college education.

One of the investor for the Saigon River’s Elisa floating restaurant, Nguyen Hai Linh, however, pointed out that a degree in tourism was not a guarantee for a worker to get a job, pointing out that the demand for tourism staff was so high, companies and 5 star hotels in Saigon ended up rarely hiring tourism students, stating that students, while adept in the theories, were lacking in practical skills.

Another investor, this time for the Cathay hotel chain in the city, repeated that statement, saying that recruiting the right employees with degrees was difficult. The investor stated that a non-negligible percentage of Cathay hotels’ customers were foreigners, meaning that employees needed to have a good grasp of foreign language skills, which happen to be the one of the weakest skills of Vietnam’s students, a weakness tourism students are not exempt from.

The Ho Chi Minn City University of Culture’s Tourism Faculty dean, Mai Ha Phuong, stated that the somewhat lacking quality of tourism employees stemmed from the industry’s education lacking a proper curriculum.

She adds that that is a considerable problem, due to budget constraints and management mechanics, which prevents the institutions of the country from developing a good curriculum on their own, whilst simply buying a foreign curriculum was completely out of the question due to the differing programme in the universities and prohibitive cost.