Vietnamese Youth in 4.0. Industrial Revolution, an UEH connected initiative on July 26, 2017, welcomed over 200 people from whole Vietnam and beyond in the biggest city of Vietnam.

Mr Warren Eng, Managing Director of the University of Economics and Finances, Ho Chi Minh City, gave a short introduction about the main theme of the event — the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the era of artificial intelligence, internet of things and connection. To kick off the section, he invited 3 youths among the audience onto the stage. They gave short introductions about themselves and participate in an exercise.

The 3 participants show some dance moves and the audiences would follow. Mr. Warren Eng complimented on the courageous of three audience, highlighting that being courageous is the first step to being a global citizen. He pointed out that this new wave of innovations will require critical thinking, an innovative mindset and creativity and that global citizenship is key for the Vietnamese youth to a successful transformation.

The MC of the event — Mr Jonathan Dao, from Emerging Innovation, pointed out that 400,000 youths graduate each year in Vietnam. The big question is how that enormous influx of young workforce be plugged in the Industrial Revolution 4.0? And how should higher education institutes prepare the youth? He invited the speakers and the audience to reflect on all the questions and topics.


Ms Mary Tarnowka, Consul General of U.S. Consulate, Ho Chi Minh City, talked about the opportunities and challenges that the Vietnamese youth are facing. She described Industrial Revolution 4.0 as a relative new concept, a buzzword, an new era and as a radical change. She believes that it will fundamentally change the ways in which our daily lives interact with technology, and that this increasing integration of technology promises to disrupt everything we know. To deal with the changes, she calls the youth in Vietnam and in USA to position themselves to adapt and prepare for this technological revolution so we can shape this world into the one we want to inhabit.

Cooperation and critical thinking are central in this process. She pledged also for a cooperation, not only economical but also in science, technology and innovation, between her country — the US and Vietnam. As the Industrial Revolution will lower the limits that physical distance brings, American businesses don’t just offer high quality products, services, and know-how; they offer solutions that will help bring both economies into Industry 4.0. She also referred to the Smart City Initiatives. In response, Vietnam should continuously commit to the Vietnam 2035 Report and invest in modernization, the management of urbanization and the industrialization. She witnesses already that Ho Chi Minh city is filled with entrepreneurs and change agents that work hard in cafes and co-working spaces for the development of this city.

She also emphasized that Vietnamese youth should not focus only on improving hard skills. To stay competitive they should also invest in their creativity, interpersonal relationships, innovations and other soft skills. She talked about STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. She told about the initiatives from the US in Vietnam, like as the installment of a higher education institute with American methods, which are rooted in Vietnamese culture and heritage, which aims to foster critical thinking and problem solving. She told about the number of Vietnamese students sent to USA.

She emphasized that not only major companies, but small companies and individuals can bring a lot of changes also. Lastly, Ms Mary Tarnowka encouraged the audience to work hard, expand skills and knowledge, think creatively, and keep their minds open to new possibilities.


Mr Jonathan Dao then introduced a video clip about the memorizing moments in the 1-year journey of UEH Connected, which “was established as a non profit organization to create a community for the Vietnamese youth with essential activities and supportive services that would help them to fill the gap and shortage in skills, knowledge, attitude and networks.” In this video, Mr Richard Bale, Canadian Consul General, Ho Chi Minh City, pointed out that globalization and other trends are changing businesses, our lives and expectations. Mr Warren Eng remarked that it is easy to get information, because of the Internet in general. That means it is about application and how you can find solution. In the video, he calls youth people to be courageous, stand up, be creative and critical and seize opportunities.

After the video, Mr Cong-Thang Huynh, Founder of UEH Connected, Ho Chi Minh City, greeted the special guests and audience.

He shared his own testimonials of young people developing and sharpening their language, interpersonal skills and creativity. He felt proud of what UEHConnected had accomplished and thanked all the people involved that has made this happen.


Ms Lien Hoang, Business correspondent at Bloomberg BNA, led a panel discussion on “Redefine the position of Vietnamese youth in the global labor market”. She set the tone by telling how ICT changed her job as a journalist. Before, people read newspapers at corners, but now her working environment has been more digital than ever.

Mr Alexandre Sompheng, CEO Ekino Vietnam (Havas Group), said that creativity is an important asset, but he remarked that not all people can be transformed into creative thinkers. He is very interested in how society has to be organised when robots take a more prominent position in the workforce. Does the society need new rules? He referred to the job losses in China as a result of automation. He believes there are dangers, but he predicts that the service industry will grow and benefit greatly from this. He sees a lot of opportunities for the tourism industry in Vietnam.

However, he also reflected upon the poor education system. Higher education institutes do not train young people enough in soft skills. He noted that internet penetration is slow and that Vietnam is ten years behind developed countries. However, Vietnam can leapfrog different ideas and technologies exist in developed countries. As an example, he told that Vietnam can skip the mastercard and invest in online-banking apps instead.

Mr Nguyen Thanh Truong, Executive Vice President at Hoa Sen University, challenged the audience to look into the future and imagine how technology could change the lives of people. He asked the audience why businesses should hire humans instead of robots. Humans can only work 8 hours, robots can work 24 hours. Humans complain, robots do not. After a time, humans would lose their productivity, robots do not. Humans can disobey, but robots can be programmed to do what is asked. He believes that Creativity is the answer. Creativity distinguishes humans from robots. He defined creativity as challenging the status quo and breaking rules in order to advance things.

Normally university trains people to be ready for a job, but the working places change faster than the period of study. He called the audience to be ready to adapt. He mentioned also the mismatch between what are being taught in schools and what are needed in workplaces. In the end, he reflected upon the celebration of failure in Silicon Valley, while Vietnamese people celebrate success. He remarked that failing is not fun, but when you want to learn anything, then you have to take risks and make mistakes and fail your way to success.

Ms Phi Van Nguyen, Founder of Retail & Franchise Asia, noted that 4.0. influences all sectors. As example, she went to a conference 2 weeks ago where she had a whole meal all printed out of 3D printers. That impressed her and made her realized how the technology was going to interfere and change our every day life in every aspect. Many times she stressed the importance of exploring new countries and new interests to bolster creative thinking and open-mindedness. She criticized the lack of freedom in thinking among the younger generations and the education system in Vietnam, where youth are not allowed to question and be creative, but just listen. “They think for their parents, not for themselves.” She said it is important to give young people the space to freely think, expose them to the world and let them grow. She also stressed that as Vietnam is still several years behind developed countries in many aspects, we have nowhere to go but to go forward. The exposure that we have today for the youth thanks to the development of technology and Internet is the chemical, the energy that is going take the country forward in the future.

She encourages the youth to learn continuously and be curious for what is happening, what opportunities are there especially outside Vietnam and their field of study.

Mr Richard Bale, Canadian Consul General, talked about the challenges and opportunities of the improving ICT. Facebook allows people to say a lot of things to more audience than ever before. This brings opportunities, but also challenges. Vietnam government is not used to this form of communication. He remarked it changed his job as a consul. His job is to communicate values between the two countries — Canada and Vietnam. In the past, he said they would do that in very traditional methods, but now the way that they reach and communicate with the audiences has changed. It allowed them to talk about subjects that originally were very hard to communicate in a state owned country like Vietnam. And he thinks this is a very huge change compared to the past.

He also does not believe that 4.0. will cause job loss in all sectors, but mostly in manufacturing sectors. It will not challenge the service sector that much. In contrary, he thinks that there is not an overcapacity but a shortage of skilled people who master different languages and soft skills in workforce. Knowing foreign languages also improves the access to new ideas from elsewhere. He believes that the young people are better than the older generation regarding language skills, and also more willing to speak up in companies than the older generations did. This will bring active and positive changes from the bottom. This change will be slow, but he hopes that it will not be too slow.