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Nurturing green human resources


One of the significant barriers for many businesses is the lack of quality human resources suitable for the shift to sustainable development. Grasping this trend early, Gia Dinh University (GDU) aims to be a place that provides "green" human resources for the economy.


TheLEADER magazine discussed with Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thai Ba Can, President of Gia Dinh University, the strategic orientation of human resource training, which is increasingly more suitable to businesses' needs.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thai Ba Can, President of Gia Dinh University.

Become a mass university

GDU aims to become a mass university with a student population in the top 5 private universities nationwide by 2030. Can you tell me more about this goal?

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thai Ba Can: The early history of university development was elite, but recently, the number of people attending university has increased rapidly. For example, university-aged people account for up to 70% in Japan, Korea, America, etc. Therefore, the university gradually turned to the masses and was no longer elite like its origin. To make it easier to understand, mass university means that many people can go to university.

GDU also takes the criteria of a mass university, a place that provides higher education to the majority. GDU chooses a training program that is popular, mass, and accessible to the majority.

"Be able to participate" here can be understood in two senses. The first is that the input requirements are not too high, and the training of a widespread workforce is not research-oriented. Second, although GDU is a private school, it offers the lowest training cost solution so that many people can study at university.

From that orientation, the university tries to develop quickly so that it can quickly provide the country with a large workforce. Therefore, the university set a goal by 2030 to be among the top five private schools with the largest number of students.

Many universities worldwide have hundreds of thousands, even millions of students (Indira Gandhi University, India; Anadolu University, Türkiye, etc.)

Alumni who studied at GDU are still proud that the university focuses on a practical environment, such as meeting businesses and experts early. Currently, which industries and businesses is GDU cooperating with?

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thai Ba Can: At GDU, there is a slogan: "Gia Dinh students are good at English and proficient at work." That is, the university that trains students must first be good at English because language is key to helping them quickly integrate into the new environment when they go to work, and from there, their work will be good.

As for "job proficiency," GDU students are exposed to businesses right from the first year to learn what the workplace will be like in the future. Early exposure and knowing where they will work in the future will help students learn how to study, thereby giving them a better attitude toward learning.

The university has 17 majors, mainly in three fields: information technology, administrative economics, humanities, and social sciences. Some businesses have close relationships with the university, such as Mobifone in information technology, Tan Cang, airports, and logistics. The university recently brought more than 1,000 students to businesses to visit and practice. After the tours, they all received positive feedback.

Before studying specialized subjects, GDU has the subject "Introduction to the field" to introduce all issues related to the field students are preparing to study.

Majors are not be opened based on trends

By 2028, GDU will have 30 training majors. Are there any industries considered popular, like semiconductors?

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thai Ba Can: Recently, there has been information that Vietnam will strive to become a chip manufacturing center. However, in preparing human resources for this new industry, each university's strengths will determine whether to participate or not.

Gia Dinh University campus. 

My point of view is not to follow the trend, so for now, there is no training in semiconductor or chip design because GDU does not have the facilities, history, or training experience in this field. From my experience, I see that each university should promote its strengths, then training results will be better.

So, which industry will GDU choose as its strength?

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thai Ba Can: The current movement of the world and Vietnamese economies shows that digital transformation and artificial intelligence (AI) are inevitable. Therefore, one of GDU's current and upcoming technical training directions is strongly developing the information technology industry. Information technology here is understood in a broader sense, including scientific disciplines that develop based on a strict logical foundation, such as information systems, computer engineering, computer science, software technology, and computer graphics, etc. and sciences based on open logic platforms, such as AI, IoT, etc.

In the future, AI can replace humans in many jobs. So the question is, what will people do? In my opinion, humans will produce, operate, maintain, and teach AI to work according to their will, serving the common interests of society.

AI development trends include creating AI and using AI. In particular, creating AI is difficult and requires adequate facilities and human resources, so the university will focus on training people proficient in using AI.

Another direction that the university will pursue is human science. Until now, we have only been interested in human physical health, so we developed the medical industry. In the modern world, human life needs to take care of many things that are less important than physical health. This is an area that is lacking and weak in Vietnam.

Providing green human resources

In 2021, at the COP26 Conference, Vietnam committed to achieving net zero emissions ("Net Zero") by 2050. ESG (environmental, social, and governance) practices are gaining attention from scientists, researchers, policymakers, and business practices. What strategies does GDU have to increase students' awareness and expertise on ESG practices to meet new labor market standards?

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thai Ba Can: ESG is increasingly popular, and many countries have begun to apply ESG standards when importing goods, so equipping students with awareness has also become more urgent. For GDU, we will also adjust the course curriculum so that the content of all subjects must mention ESG.

For example, when investing, you also need to look for businesses practicing good ESG and being socially responsible, which will bring more value. Therefore, economics subjects must also include the concept of ESG for students to understand and have knowledge.

GDU will adjust the program so that the content of all subjects must mention ESG.

With renewable energy, not only can the units that build solar power plants implement a green economy, but consumers must also be conscious of using green energy instead of fossil energy.

In some countries, when signing an electricity contract with consumers, there will be options to use nuclear power, fossil fuel power, or renewable energy power. When choosing to use renewable energy, the price will be higher than fossil electricity, but in return, that action will help protect the environment.

However, for consumers to have such awareness, it must be built while they are still sitting in universities or lecture halls.

Many businesses that build sustainable development reports and practice ESG lack suitable human resources and enough expertise to do so. With the strategic orientation of human resource training to the requirements of businesses and markets, how has GDU prepared?

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thai Ba Can: As mentioned above, as I understand it, ESG is not an independent scientific subject but a framework standard for evaluating environmental, social, and governance aspects, so it is necessary to apply this knowledge to all fields of study.

For example, the European Commission (EC) warned of a yellow card for fisheries exploitation in Vietnam, which means that in ESG practice, it can be understood that this is a social issue and must respect the common law. Therefore, in training a fisheries engineer, a businessman working in the seafood processing industry must teach them not to fish in prohibited areas, not during spawning season, etc.

As a human resources training facility, GDU will also try to equip all students with that knowledge so that when they graduate, they can recognize and act properly and take responsibility for each specific job. As for training personnel specializing in ESG practices, perhaps in the future, GDU will have a major in ESG management.

GDU always aims to provide green human resources for businesses and society.

Thank you, Sir!

Theo TheLeader