Effective policies to attract talented people to HCMC

In order for science-technology to develop sustainably in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), the mission to draw high-quality human resources, especially international ones, to work in research institutes has been prioritized. Despite encountering certain obstacles, many recently issued policies have delivered new hopes.

Scientists are exchanging information on MEMS technology in a conference hosted by SHTP (Photo: SGGP)

Scientists are exchanging information on MEMS technology in a conference hosted by SHTP (Photo: SGGP)

The Institute for Computational Science and Engineering (ICST) now has 40 employees working closely with 6 professors, both domestic and foreign, in various projects. It also welcomes several doctors, senior researchers from different universities to perform their studies as a result of being a PRAGMA member.

Successfully hosting many global conferences such as the International Conference on Computational Science and Engineering (ICCSE) in 2011, 2014, and 2016; the Smart City 360o Summit in 2017 and 2018; or the International Conference on Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Studies in 2017 and 2018, ICST has been able to connect domestic and foreign scientists for various foundation researches.

Mr. Nguyen Ky Phung, Head of ICST, shared that his organization will continue to pursue the designed goals and improve research quality, focusing specially on practical aspects to apply in the reality. ICST will also try to welcome more high-leveled human resources and increase studies on internationally concerned issues while maintaining the host of regular prestigious conferences.

However, it was a pity for ICST to have to say goodbye to one particular passionate scientist – Prof. Truong Nguyen Thanh, who was invited to train people in the field of computational science. Despite participating in the project to establish ICST in 2009, the professor had to bid farewell as his demands were unanswered satisfyingly.

Meeting a similar situation is Prof. Dr. Dang Luong Mo. He especially regretted the failure of HCMC in signing a technology transfer contract with Japan on integrated circuit manufacturing. He said that since Vietnam was unable to finish the transfer process, Japan turned to Malaysia instead; and now thanks to the new technology, this country has surpassed our nation in the industry.

One more regretful case is the situation of the HCMC Biotechnology Center, where a doctor agreed to work after finishing his study abroad. However, a short time later, as his requirements cannot be met, he had to move.

Reporting a more positive result, the Saigon Hi-Tech Park (SHTP) has been able to attract quite a number of foreign scientists. At the moment, there are four leading international experts, namely Prof. Sugiyama Susumu, Kazuhiko Nakamura, Dr. Hoang The Ban, and Jason Rim, who have successfully re-signed their working contract with the HCMC People’s Committee.

The management board of SHTP affirmed that foreign experts have had great contribution to the development of science-technology in the city. For instance, Prof. Dr. Susumu Sugiyama and Dr. Maxime Projetti are actively doing research on the growth of the Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) industry in the period from 2017 – 2020 under the decision issued by the HCMC People’s Committee. Prof. Susumu Sugiyama and his team was successful in creating pressurizing sensors in the monitoring system for water level at sewage drains.

Similarly, since May 2017, Dr. Maxime Projetti has been working to develop MEMS devices to use in the monitoring system for urban flooding in HCMC.

According to Mr. Ngo Vo Ke Thanh, Director of SHTP Labs, it is these international scientists who introduce a truly professional research attitude to domestic ones, helping their counterparts to self-improve and better adapt to international environments later. It is also these international scientists who provide valuable collaboration opportunities with foreign educational and researching institutes in many fields of mechatronics, integrated circuit, and Nano.

The sad fact is several foreign researchers are facing trouble applying for a visa (the current permission time is 1 year at the longest) or seeking stable accommodation or transport means. What is more, the income tax on these people are still high, charging at 20 percent of their income.

Therefore, Mr. Thanh suggested that for these talented people to happily work in Vietnam, related state agencies should reduce the expert evaluation time and offer suitable support regarding accommodation or traveling means.

One more notable fact concerns the salary rate. The base salary of only VND15-16 million (approx. $666) per month has a very little appealing effect towards talented people. Even with the salary of SHTP at VND40-50 million ($1,900) per month, many foreign scientists find it hard to cope with the life in Vietnam, especially when they bring along their own family.

It is, therefore, necessary to show our sincerity in attracting and retaining high-leveled people so that they feel secure enough to devote themselves to science in Vietnam and help us develop.

Happily, the recent Decision No.17/2019/DĐ-UBND issued on July 4, 2019 by the HCMC People’s Committee about policies to attract talented people and develop expert teams in the key industries in HCMC from 2019-2022 has introduced certain impressive points.

Accordingly, there will be an initial support of VND100 million ($4,300) and housing cost (not larger than VND7 million - $300 – per month or 50 percent of the cost), traveling means for scientific expert. The salary rate will be 9.4 for an associate professor or professor and 8.8 for other titles. When re-signing a working contract, these people will have a 1.0 higher rate, which is stable for other re-signing as well. The especially talented people will receive a salary of VND30-50 million ($1,290 – $2,150) per month.

A promotion policy for those who win awards with their research or have special contribution in their working time would deliver an additional amount of around VND1 billion ($43,000) per person at the maximum.

These new encouraging policies are expected to attract more high-quality human resources in science-technology to HCMC in the near future.

By BA TAN – Translated by Vien Hong

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