English language proficiency and the Education system in Vietnam

If you’re considering building an outsourced team in Vietnam, you’re probably wondering how you bridge the language barrier and what the Vietnamese education system is like?


The good news is that there is no language barrier. Vietnamese schools offer English as a compulsory requirement for all students from year 3 all the way through to university. Historically, the government committed to achieving 80% English proficiency among university graduates by 2020. In the context of this commitment, ‘English Proficiency’ means the ability to communicate effectively in English and understand complex texts, both orally and in writing. This has made sourcing an outsourced team in Vietnam climb higher in the ranks than ever before.


outsourced team in Vietnam


English Proficiency is commonly assessed using the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or The International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Both of these exams are universal and are one of the requirements international students need to successfully complete in order to obtain University places in Australia. This highlights the importance the Vietnamese Government places on English Language education. This is particularly the case for those workers who aspire to work in industries such as Business Process Outsourcing or other international areas where English is the primary language. Couple this with the fact that workers within the outsourcing industry are working with English speaking clients and are, therefore, constantly practicing and refining their skills. It is not a case of learning a skill throughout their education that is not applied and is then forgotten.

The Government’s focus on English Language education does not stand in isolation. According to a 2019 Deloitte report, The strategy has been credited, in part, for the 20%-25% annual growth rate of the country’s outsourcing industry. Combine this with the fact that Vietnam’s outsourcing industry has strict recruitment policies pertaining to English Language proficiency and you can be all but guaranteed that your Vietnam-based outsourced team will have no worries communicating with your local team.


Other indicators of English Language Proficiency all seem to agree; That Vietnam is focused on improving in this area. Take a look at these results:

The 2022 EF English Language Proficiency Index ranks Vietnam at 60, which puts it in the moderate proficiency category. That puts it in front of countries like Mexico, Israel and China and only a few places behind Brazil and India. Of course, other outsourcing locations are well in front of Vietnam for example:


  • South Africa at 12; and

  • The Philippines at 22.


outsourced team in Vietnam


Of course English is the most commonly spoken language in South Africa and it is one of two official languages of The Philippines. So naturally you would expect them to rank higher than a country such as Vietnam. The other consideration with Indexes such as this one is that the pool of respondents are not chosen by the testing body. That is to say, that test results are compiled via an online tool that anybody can access for free in order to gain an understanding of their own English skills. We will happily posit that if only Vietnamese Outsourcing workers completed the EF English Language Proficiency Test then Vietnam’s results would be much higher!


At the end of the day, if you are considering building an outsourced team in Vietnam you need to partner with a high quality, professional outsourcing provider who screens talent well, with a focus on English Language Proficiency. You need to be clear in your recruitment requirements and work with your provider every step of the way.


If you are interested in learning more about the pros and cons of the various outsourcing locations around the world and how Vietnam compares to them, contact our friendly team today!

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