A young worker and the trainer engage in a discussion during training.
Vietnam currently has 10.8 million young workers, accounting for 21.4% of the labour force. Companies in the country can hire workers as young as 15 years old, but there are rules to protect them. These rules make sure that young workers only do jobs that don’t interfere with their health and development. It also means companies must carefully manage where they work and how long they work.
However, one in 10 young people (aged 15-29) were unemployed in the first quarter of 2023. One of the reasons for this is a mismatch between attained and required educational qualifications and skills in Vietnam's labour market. Vietnam’s manufacturing industry also do not hire workers under 18, and this limits opportunities for skill development to those who have secured a job within the sector. This also means many young people lacking access to education and access to decent working opportunities in formal work, end up working in jobs in the informal sector where they are more vulnerable to exploitation and hazardous working conditions.
IKEA recognises the opportunity to positively impact young people who are engaged in work - young workers. IKEA is committed to providing and promoting learning and working opportunities for young people and tackle the exclusion that this group is facing. The collaborative effort between IKEA and the Work: No Child’s Business (WNCB) project, with support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, its primary objective is to enhance the prospects of young workers in Vietnam through a range of soft and technical skills training and job rotation, while at the same time enabling the factory to build up a multi-skilled, young workforce through responsible hiring and management practices that are sustainable. To this end, the programme is building up the capacity of factory HR and management to enable them to responsibly hire and manage young workers over the long term. This includes reviewing policies and practices related to recruitment, contracts, retention, training, and performance appraisal, while ensuring compliance with local laws and company’s codes of conduct.
On September 21, 2023, The Centre for Child Rights and Business (The Centre) conducted soft skills training for eight newly recruited young workers at Woodsland Tuyen Quang JSC., a supplier of IKEA. The training was led by The Centre’s trainers with two internal trainers from the factory, who acted as co-trainers, leading half of the training programme.
“I like the way young workers were actively engaged in the training. The training materials are easy to understand and encourage openness and sharing among the young workers. As an HR Manager and an internal trainer in this programme, I have learned a lot from The Centre’s team on effectively working with young workers,” said the factory’s HR Manager.
Inclusivity takes a prominent role as the YWDP welcomes young workers, aged 15 to 17, from diverse and marginalised backgrounds, particularly those who’ve dropped out of school or have a history of doing hazardous work.
Four participants, with a history of hazardous work, such as motor and automobile repairs, construction, and the restaurant industry, now work in an environment that strictly adheres to legal standards applicable to young workers, including regulated working hours, fair pay, no overtime and no hazardous tasks. The recent soft skills training, which included sessions on effective communications with peers and supervisors, conflict management, personal finance management, personal & reproductive health, sexual harassment violence at the workplace, and career orientation will also contribute to their overall career development and prospects.
A group of young workers in training.
"Before coming here, I worked for a private company, installing metal frames for doors, windows, and furniture. I was fortunate not to have been involved in an accident while working there," said one of the boys during the training.
For IKEA, an initiative like IKEA Young Worker Development Programme is an opportunity to secure decent working opportunities and promote inclusion and development for young workers. The training that factory management and HR are receiving, including upskilling of internal trainers, means the factory can continue hiring and developing young workers sustainably going forward.
A group photo from the Young Worker Development Programme.