Education holds key to employability: Navigos Group CEO

Wednesday, Jul 19, 2017 09:00

Navigos Search always serves the market as a incubator to train professional recruitment consultants.

Viet Nam’s labour market has many strengths but more investment is needed in education and training if companies want to compete on a global scale. Gaku Echizenya, CEO and chairman of Navigos Group which comprises and Navigos Search, tells Viet Nam News about the company’s 15 years of operations in the country and his view of the country’s labour market.

Congratulations on your company’s big anniversary! Please tell us about the company’s achievements during its 15 years of operations.

Gaku Echizenya, CEO and chairman of Navigos Group

Thank you! We have just recently celebrated our 15th anniversary. We have achieved our target. Our target is our mission, which is to help people and companies achieve their dreams. That has been done for 15 years since 2002. That is the reason why customers come to us, and why candidates and job seekers come to us.

After the M&A deal with en-Japan Inc in 2013, we have achieved massive growth every year. We are growing at 25 per cent per year. We now have 450 employees and that is another achievement because when I came here (in 2013) we only had 250 people. We have more than three million job seekers and more than 200,000 executive candidates.

What are the biggest challenges to recruitment in Viet Nam?

There are many challenges. I think the most challenging thing is education. We need to educate both jobseekers and companies, which means the whole market. Here in Viet Nam, many people frequently change jobs. It’s good if it is a way for them to move up, but it’s just a temporary solution. If they have more training, they don’t have to switch jobs.

Employees leaving is not good for the company because it needs to find new people and train them again. A company can grow faster only if it can keep good employees.

Another challenge, which is a challenge for every company and not just recruitment companies, is engagement. Engaging employees is very important to every company’s sustainable growth. I think every company faces a challenge in engaging people.

What are the Viet Nam labour market’s strengths and weaknesses?

I think the market has a lot of strengths. People are young, passionate, eager to learn and want to move up. Vieät Nam is a very competent market right now.

Compared to Japan, Viet Nam’s average age is lower, which is better. While the average age in Japan right now is 46, in Viet Nam it is 28. Young people here like to buy fashionable clothes and go out very often. But in Japan, there are a lot of mature people and they do not go out or spend money; they just save it. That does not get the economy going. Viet Nam has one big advantage, which is young people.

What I like about young Vietnamese is that they are very straight and do not hesitate to speak up. I am a CEO but my employees can talk to me very directly. I think speaking up is a way to help you move up. For example, an employee can come to me and say I want to become a manager: we will teach him/her how to do that. Japanese never really speak up about their dreams to their supervisors.

One weakness is education (again) and I have talked about it a lot already. But a lot of companies do not invest in training or education for their staff. Maybe they think if they invest a lot in training, their employees will learn, get better and leave the company. Of course, it happens. But if companies do not invest in people, they will not trust the companies. So I think it is a weakness of Viet Nam’s labour market: the lack of education.

I can give you one example: university students are underemployed. Fresh graduates are potential employees in the future but they cannot find jobs after graduation. Only 30 per cent of them can find jobs; 70 per cent are unemployed. If companies hire those people and give them training, like many global companies in FMCG do in Viet Nam, in 2 years they will become experienced. Then people can compete globally.

It is a good strategy for Vietnamese companies. Many companies are doing so because they know how limited the workforce can be. Every year there are 500,000 fresh graduates in Viet Nam. If we can educate them well, we can utilise them.

With Viet Nam’s GDP growing at more than 6 per cent and increasing FDI inflows leading to higher demand for manpower, especially senior personnel, how is your company set to benefit? What has it done to take advantage?

Viet Nam is growing. It’s good but it’s also a problem. Like Japan, it’s developed but lacks manpower. Maybe in future Viet Nam will face that problem. Its GDP is growing at more than 6 per cent right now and it is attracting FDI from Korea, Japan, Singapore. These countries want to expand their business in Viet Nam and so need more employees.

What we are doing is matching. Vietnamworks is a platform to match job seekers and customers. Job seekers can visit the site, choose suitable jobs, click and apply. It’s very easy and convenient. But senior candidates are different because they don’t usually use Vietnamworks since it mainly focuses on experienced staff and non-management level. That’s why we have Navigos Search. Navigos Search has a lot of jobs for mid-level such as managers, directors and C-level as well.

Since the M&A, we have also built a site for IT people because there is a high demand for IT staff right now. Every company is looking for IT engineers and software developers. That’s why we have Since a lot of Japanese companies are coming here we created for Japanese speaking candidates. We also set up different divisions focusing on Japanese and Korean companies.

Another site for executive candidates, Primus, is under development right now. It’s for people who earn more than US$3,000 a month. On this site, candidates can choose consultants specialising in various fields. For example, a marketing director can work with consultants in marketing field. This product is under trial and will be launched in August.

What are your company’s plans in the next few years? And how will it continue to contribute to Viet Nam’s labour market and economy?

Our strategy is 3E method. The first E is employment, which means recruitment, our main business. The second E is evaluation. We evaluate job seekers through several tests, mainly focusing on their personality. Candidates can use these tests to find more suitable jobs. The tests have been developed by our parent company and we localised them in Vietnamese. The third E is education, which I think is very important for Viet Nam. Education can help people move up, especially after they join a company. With this strategy, we can pursue our long-term vision, Success After Joining.

Most recruitment companies just focus on recruitment. Companies pay us to find staff for them but their demand is not just hiring people. They look for people who can make a contribution. That is the purpose of hiring. Job seekers change jobs because they want to move up with a new company. The joining period is just a starting point. We care about them after they join a company to see if they are satisfied with their jobs. Not only do we help companies hire people, we also help evaluate and educate them. In the near future, we will launch a product for education.

For 15 years, we have focused on the recruitment business. But the market, the people, the way they think, have changed a lot since 2002. So we need to think about new businesses and what we can do for the Vietnamese market, not only in the recruitment industry but also others. We have a large database of job seekers, we have many customers and knowledge. If we can utilise those assets, we can contribute a lot to Viet Nam’s labour market and economy.—VNS

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