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Mekong Innovation Initiative kicks off in Vietnam

The program will train 500 individuals in the Mekong Region in digital transformation and e-commerce skills, unlocking new employment opportunities.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) on April 5 kicked off the Mekong Innovation Initiative program to advance the digital economy and Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in Vietnam.

 Delegates attend the launch of the Mekong Innovation Initiative program. Photos: USAID Vietnam

The Mekong Innovation Initiative will develop a more robust and digitally-ready workforce and mobilize resources to support innovation in the Mekong Region. 

The program will help address a growing demand for digital skills across Vietnam’s economy by training 500 individuals in the Mekong Region in digital transformation and e-commerce skills, unlocking new employment opportunities. 

This program builds on Vietnam’s own investments in reforming its workforce and supports Vietnam in advancing its Fourth Industrial Revolution Strategy.

The event featured presentations and discussions on current opportunities to advance a culture of innovation in the Mekong region, how policy can be reformed to promote innovation, and the workforce investments needed to fuel a knowledge economy.

USAID/Vietnam Mission Director Ann Marie Yastishock and MPI Vice Minister Tran Duy Dong, the Director of MPI’s National Innovation Center and leaders from 13 provinces in the Mekong Region attended the launching ceremony in Cantho City.

 USAID/Vietnam Mission Director Ann Marie Yastishock speaks at the event.

Addressing the event, Ann Marie Yastishock, USAID/Vietnam Mission Director, said the opportunities are significant for Vietnam to realize the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and thrive through this economic transition, but to do so requires enabling its digitally equipped workforce to power a knowledge-based economy across many sectors.

“USAID is excited to expand our collaboration supporting Vietnam in finding innovative approaches for supplementing conventional degree paths and accelerating the digital transformation of Vietnam’s workforce,” she said.

In his remarks, MPI Vice Minister Tran Duy Dong added: “The Mekong Innovation Initiative will expand interest in digital opportunities and motivation to join the digital transformation and help combine resources to accelerate innovation for the Mekong Delta.”

The Mekong Innovation Initiative is supported by USAID Vietnam’s Workforce for an Innovation and Start-up Ecosystem (WISE) activity, Vice President Kamala Harris announced during her visit to Vietnam in 2021. 

WISE is a collaboration between USAID and MPI’s National Innovation Center that focuses on expanding digital skills within Vietnam’s labor market to improve the upward mobility and competitiveness of Vietnam’s workforce. 

WISE will support the Mekong Innovation Initiative to develop the digital labor force of the Mekong Region. This is part of WISE’s commitment to bridge urban-rural and gender digital divides, helping to ensure that the digital economy and Fourth Industrial Revolution opportunities are accessible to Vietnam’s population.

 MPI Vice Minister Tran Duy Dong makes a speech at the event.