On June 22nd, a senior level Vietnamese Government delegation began a two-week study tour to the United States and Thailand to learn how Americans and Thais provide employment related services for people with disabilities (PWD). The tour, coordinated by VNAH, was part of the US Department of Labor (DOL) funded project “Improving Employment Opportunities and Services for People with Disabilities in Viet Nam”.
The project’s goals are to enhance the capacity of employment services for people with disabilities in Viet Nam by promoting employment through law and policy reform, creating access to key employment service centers (ESC), ESC staff development, new equipment, job training and job placement, and public awareness and education. The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) is the counterpart government institution for this project. MOLISA has assigned the project to the Department of Labor and Employment Policies (DOLEP) to help implement the project.
The purpose of the study tour was to explain and show to senior officials in charge of Viet Nam’s system of Employment Service Centers how the US and Thailand operate similar services in their countries. The delegates were interested in learning how the US’ One-Stop Career Centers provide services for PWD. Viet Nam’s system of ESCs is remarkably similar to the US’ One-Stop Career Centers. These are multi-purpose centers providing the job-seeking public with job counseling, vocational training and job placement services. However, few ESCs in Viet Nam currently provide services to PWD. The study tour was one of the staff development activities planned by VNAH in furtherance of gaining access for PWD to the ESC system.
The delegation was lead by Mr. Nguyen Dai Dong, Director of the Department of Labor, Employment and Policy (DOLEP) of MOLISA. Other members of the delegation included: Mr. Bui Viet Bao, DOLEP staff; Mr. Nguyen Nhu Tuan, staff of the International Relations Department (MOLISA); Mr. Tran Dinh Phuong, Director of the Hai Duong ESC; Mr. Nguyen Phao, Director of the Da Nang ESC; Ms. Le Thi Ngan Suong, Director of the Ho Chi Minh City ESC; Ms. Trinh Thi Mai, Director the of Hai Duong VGCL ESC; and Mr. Bui Quang Minh, Disability Employment Project Manager for VNAH.
The delegation’s meetings included a mixture of high-level meetings with Government officials and more practical “this-is-how-we-do-it” meetings with One-Stop Career Centers, vocational training programs and accommodation experts. Besides meetings with the Vietnamese Ambassador Nguyen Tam Chien; DOL Assistant Secretary for Disability Policy, Dr. Roy Grizzard; and DOL Foreign Relations Office representatives, James Perlmutter and Bui Bruno; the Washington, DC area visit include a thorough examination of how One-Stop Career Centers serve PWD. The delegation worked with the One-Stop Career Centers in Montgomery County, Maryland; Fairfax County, Virginia; Employer Assistance Referral Network; the Job Accommodation Network; and the National Collaborative on the Workforce and Disability.
In Thailand, the delegation called on the Chairman of the Committee for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons, Minister Anurak Chureemas of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, the Bangkok One-Stop Services Centre for People with Disabilities, the ILO Ability Asia Office, and the Emerging Social Issue Division of UNESCAP. Additionally, site visits were made to vocational training centers and employers working with PWD, including: Thaiwheel Factory, Sampran Vocational Center for Blind Women, Jintana Apparel Company, Industrial Rehabilitation Center, Rachanukul Institute, and the Redemptorist Vocational Center.
Mr. Dai Dong, the delegation’s leader, was enthusiastic about what the group had learned and will soon hold a small workshop to share their knowledge with other ESCs involved in the project. He acknowledged VNAH for the fine arrangements; and noted the high-level of quality and technical expertise observed through their meetings and site visits. In the opinion of all, the study tour was a success!