Introduction

The Institute of Labour Science was established following the Government Council’s Decision No. 79/CP on April 14, 1978. The Institute was renamed “Institute of Labour Science and Social Issues” in 1987 and “Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs” in 2002.

The Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs (ILSSA) is the leading institutes functioning basic research and action research, providing the foundation for the development of policies and strategies in the field of labour, people and society.

After 35 years of development efforts, the Institute has gradually proved its status in the network of social science research institutes in Vietnam. The Institute’s works and studies have been increasingly linked to the sector’s State administrative functions, providing scientific grounds for the making and implementation of policies related to labour, people and society through different periods.

The Institute’s establishment and development history is closely associated with the development of the Labour – Invalids and Social Affairs sector, and can be divided into four different periods: Pre-Reform (since establishment in 1978 to 1986), Post-Reform (1986-1996), 1996-2007 and 2008-present.

1978-1986

Tasks focused on basic and applied researches in the field of labour science during the central planning period, including theoretical researches, syntheses of current experience and researches related to micro-management, especially enterprises in public sector. Research results highlighted a varied range of aspects concerning establishment of 11 consistent sets of norms on execution in the basic construction, common time standard for calculating norms on mechanical outsourcing, methods of building technical standards of workers and guidance on creating job categories, analytical methods of factors influencing labour productivity in economic grassroots units; effective business models, population forecasts and labour distribution until 2000; etc.

International collaborative research with nations within the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Soviet Ekonomicheskoy Vzaimopomoshchi – SEV), especially the Soviet Union was strengthened, with focus on fields of scientific organization of labour, productivity norms, wages and salaries, ergonomy etc.

The Institute’s research and studies contributed to the development of policies, improvement of labour management in a timely manner, helping businesses reorganize their workforce in a scientific way to enhance productivity. Various studies on productivity norms, criteria for worker’s technical ranking, labour productivity etc. are still being revised, adjusted and finalized; numerous scientific studies served as a good source of reference for the development of policies in the field of labour.

1986-1996

The period of 1986-1996 marked a turning point in the Institute’s research activities, alongside the country’s economic and way of thinking reforms, to keep up with the transition from the centralized planning economy to a market driven economy with different sectors under the State’s management.

The Institute’s research functions included new grounds for argument and methodologies, and at the same time solving urgent problems in the transition period (layoff during the restructure of State-owned enterprises, employment for social labour, policy reforms on wages and salaries, social insurance and protection etc.). National-level scientific theses on wage and salary reforms and social insurance reforms to adapt to the multi-sector commodity economy contributed considerably to the draft Wage and Salary and Social Insurance Reform Plan (1993) submitted to the Government; Ministerial-level theses provided scientific basis for the development of the 1995 Law on Labour; various studies on female workers and gender equality, working conditions and environment, social problems etc. contributed to the making of policies for people who contributed to the Revolution, social protection and poverty alleviation etc.

A series of baseline surveys conducted by the Institute provided multi-dimensional and systematic data for evaluating the impacts of labour and social policies, as well as practical basis for developing various thematic reports on labour, employment, and reasoning grounds for the Ministry’s inputs to the Central Committee’s Resolutions (6th Tenure).

The Institute took the initiative to cooperate with local authorities to develop numerous development master plans for the Labour-Invalids and Social affair sector for a number of provinces and economic zones.

In the field of international cooperation, the Institute expanded its international collaborations with bilateral and multilateral organizations such as SIDA Sweden, ILO, Stockholm School of Economics and other international organizations, which provided the Institute with up-to-date information of international concepts, conventions and standards in the field of labour and social affairs. In 1995, the Institute became a member of the Asia – Pacific network of Labour Research Institutes.

1997-2007

During this period, Vietnam continued to gain important economic and social achievements. However, a substantial number of social problems arose that needed both theoretical and practical solutions. Notably in this period, the Institute either chaired or participated in:

(i) providing foundations for the Central Committee’s Conference and the 9th and 10th National Congresses of the Communist Party: studies on “Combining economic growth with social equity”, labour policies in the private economic sector, congregation of theoretical and practical issues of 20 years of Reform in the field of labour and social affairs for the purpose of improving the socialist-oriented market economic regime in the context of international integration and fast and sustainable economic growth.

(ii) Developing major sector strategies and plans: Employment and Poverty Alleviation Strategies and Programs for the periods of 1998-2000, 2001-2005 and 2006-2010;

(iii) providing scientific evidences for revision and adjustment of laws and policies in the field of labour, invalids and social affairs: Law on Labour, Law on Social Insurance, Law on Vocational training etc.;

(iv) Evaluations or recommendations for changes to policies and mechanisms: studies on 40-hour workweek, wage and salary payment mechanisms, state administrative mechanisms of wages and salaries in State-owned enterprises, non-state sector, foreign-invested sector, state administration of vocational training, rural labour structure, socialization of state resources and criteria for identification of poor households and communes etc.;

(v) The Institute took the leading role in developing a number of national reports for the Government: Initiative 20/20 on basic social services in Vietnam; review of implementation progress of Vietnam’s commitments at the Copenhagen World Summit for social development…;

(vi) Supporting local areas and general corporations and production establishments to implement major policies and laws of the sector: Master Plan of the Labour-Invalids and Social Affair Sector in a number of provinces; master plans for vocational training centres in a number of provinces and cities; developing wage and salary payment mechanisms and criteria for worker’s technical ranking and titles of management, review of productivity norms, review of working conditions etc. at a number of general corporations and businesses.

2008 – present

The central function of research in this period is to serve the implementation of the Resolutions of the 10th and 11th National Congresses of the Communist Party. The Institute participated in developing the Central Committee of the Communist party’s Proposal “A number of issues on social policies in the period of 2012-2020” (Resolution no. 15-NQ/TW on June 01, 2012), and the Government’s Action Plan for the implementation of Resolution no. 15-NQ/TW (Resolution No. 70/NQ-CP on November 1, 2012).

The Institute won the bids for 04 national-level studies on new problems arising during the transition to the market economy and international integration in the field of labour, people and society: Developing a highly professional and technical workforce and labour market to serve the industrialization and modernization processes, foreign labour in Vietnam during the international integration period; development of a system of views and orientation to improving policies and mechanisms and specific and feasible solutions for establishing models and quantitative methods to identify social protection floors for the period of 2011-2020, Study on identifying new signs and trends of common social problems in Vietnam in the context of market economy and international integration and requirements of new policies for effective control of social problems.

The Institute also chaired a large number of studies for the revision and adjustment of laws and policies in the field of labour, people and social affairs: the report on “Population, Labour and Family Policies” contributed to the Population and Labour Policy Proposal; proposal “Developing Vietnam’s labour market to 2020”, Study on “Relations between Minimum – Average – Maximum wages” contributed to the Wage Reform proposal for 2011-2015 period; developing and implementing the “Plan for Climate Change Responses of the Labour-Invalids and Social Affairs Sector for the period of 2011-2015” etc.

The Institute took the initiative to act as the lead and focal point for collaboration with national and international agencies to initiate a number of research programs in the field of social security (national minimum standard of living); studies that served the implementation of policies on child care and protection etc.

To serve the development of national strategies and programs on gender equality for the period of 2011-2020, the Institute led a number of studies such as “Development of a system of Monitoring and Evaluation Indicators of Gender Equality in Vietnam”, “Social impacts of Vietnamese women marrying foreign husbands” etc. The study results have contributed to the adjustments of policies on maternity benefits for female workers, and the policy on the retirement age from the gender equality perspective etc.

The Institute also provided support in preparing technical reports for the Ministry to participate in ASEAN activities (Vietnam’s Initiative on Social Protection Floors, ASEM high level forum on Employment and Social Policy, the 4th ASEM Ministerial Conference of Labour and Employment (ASEM LEMC4) etc.), and collaborated with related stakeholders to chair the “ASEM Forum on Social Safety Nets”.

The Institute is continuing its support to local authorities and general corporations and production establishments in implementing laws and policies on labour, people and social affairs.

In terms of international cooperation, the Institute has developed close and long-term collaborative relationships with international organizations such as the World Bank, ADB, UNDP, UNICEF, ILO, UN Women, DANIDA (Denmark), Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), GIZ, HSF, FES, EVAPLAN (Federal Republic of Germany), Monash University (Australia), Nihon University (Japan), Manpower Group (USA) etc..

In summary, throughout its 35 years of operation, the Institute has proved to be one of the leading research institutes in the field of labour, people and social affairs. The Institute’s focus of research has gradually shifted from micro level to sector policy-making and macro level and has become more closely linked to the sector’s roles. National and international research cooperation has been increasingly expanded; the quality of works of research has been improved. A number of studies by the Institute have contributed to diversifying the theories and practice in different fields of the sector, contributing to solving newly arising social problems though contributions to development of strategies, policies, mechanisms and laws, and target programs on labour, people and social affairs.

Recognizing the Institute’s contributions, the Ministry has awarded the Institute with Flags of Excellent Performance and Certificates of Merits in successive years; in 1997, on the occasion of its 20-year anniversary, the Institute was awarded a third-grade Labour Order by the Prime Minister; in 2003, on its 25-year anniversary, the Institute was honoured to be awarded a second-grade Labour Order; in 2013, the Institute was awarded a Third-Grade Independence Order.

The Institute of Labour and Social Affairs is making constant efforts to contribute more to the scientific foundation for the strategic planning and policies on development of human resources, labour, employment and social stability.