It said the national tourism industry needed 1.4 million employees this year. Of that number, 308,000 are frontline staff and 350,000 are cooks, cleaners and other workers.
By 2015, the number of tourism frontline staff needed is expected to rise to 467,000.
The agency said only 13,000 tourism employees were trained each year, which is at least 6,000 short of demand.
A recent survey of 20 tourism and hospitality companies in Ho Chi Minh city (HCM City) that employ trained staff showed that nearly all of them must be re-trained.
Some employees in the industry had not followed a proper career path and others had failed in their jobs.
One student, who is interning at a restaurant in HCM City’s District 1, said: "I studied restaurant-hotel management at a vocational school. I should have been interning at the marketing department to know how to manage a restaurant. But they forced me to work as a waitress. So I knew nothing about management after two months of probation."
Nguyen Phat Thao, director of New Epoch Hotel in HCM City, said: "Because of their high hopes about their chosen branch of study, and words such as management and administration on their certificates, most students think they will become a manager or administrator after graduation or internship."
Thao said that some people must spend time working as waiters or waitresses or in room service before becoming restaurant managers.
"They must understand all parts of the operations to become good managers," Thao said.
He said some students did not understand the industry and job requirements and chose to study tourism simply because their friends suggested it or they thought it was a glamorous job.
Nationwide, there are 88 universities, colleges and vocational schools training human resources for tourism. But they meet only 50 per cent of demand.
Fifty per cent of employees in the tourism sector in HCM City are not trained in the field.
The principal of a vocational school said over the past four years, few people applied to be tour guides, so the school had shifted to offering training courses for hotel-restaurant management or administration, and tourism administration.
He said the school’s capacity to train students in all facets of management was limited, and many of them left poorly trained.
"Most schools teach their students only theory and some have student internships but it’s a mere formality," he said.
Leaders of some tourism agencies said that most schools of tourism and hospitality were private, and did not care much about quality but focused on profit.
In countries with a developed tourism industry, human resources training includes theoretical knowledge as well as skills. But Viet Nam lacks the latter.
Ha Kim Vong, principal of Khoi Viet Vocational School of Tourism and Hospitality in HCM City, said that tourism companies, hotels and restaurants tended to offer training and adequate salaries.
"It’s not the management board but the staff who serve customers. They are directly influencing service quality, tourists’ satisfaction and the professionalism of the tourism sector," Vong said.
VietNamNet/Viet Nam News