We had our final company visits today, and it was bittersweet! I won’t miss the 6 AM wake ups, but also the company visits were so interesting and I really enjoyed listening to all the presentations. We visited two companies today. Our first visit was Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park. It’s a joint partnership between the governments of Vietnam and Singapore. Singapore invests in the development and in return they get portions of the profit from these buildings. From this project, the governments of Vietnam and Singapore are developing good relationships, which is always beneficial in the long run.
VSIP builds factories and integrated townships and leases them out to manufacturing companies. Companies can also buy the buildings. It’s also a community, with parks and other social amenities besides the industrial plants. They also build living quarters for the employees who work at their manufacturing plants, as well as schools for the children of those employees. These schools are like vocational schools that train the students to work at the companies in the industrial park. It’s not a common practice anymore for the Vietnamese government to do collaborative projects with other governments since the economy is moving towards the privatization of companies.
We also visited II-VI Incorporated, which is a company that specializes in manufacturing products that are used in optics and lasers. They are actually located in the Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park, the company we visited earlier this morning! It was really cool to see how these two companies intertwined. II-VI are the sole manufacturer of the laser that is used in lasik eye surgery to cut the top layer of the cornea. They also make the smallest green laser, which is very interesting because I have never heard of this company before researching it for this study abroad trip. Their products are also heavily used in the military – they make the sapphire glass that covers the targeting system on the bottom of the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Fighter Jet. It’s very cool that they make so many unique products that we all use, but never knew where they came from.
As with many other companies, the Vietnam branch of II-VI has a high turnover rate. Many workers don’t return after the Tet Lunar Holiday (which is our equivalent of the New Year). When they rejoin the workforce, they often find work in another company. II-VI is headquartered in Saxonburg, PA, which is a half hour outside of Pittsburgh. They have branches in 14 companies, and we asked why Vietnam was chosen for a location. Basically, Vietnam has the lowest labor cost in Asia. It has a solid education system and a very capable labor force. The government also gives great tax incentives, so Vietnam is a very attractive location to expand to. Referring back to the labor force, II-VI doesn’t really employ specialized workers per se. Workers need to go through an extensive 6 month training program in Suzhou, China. So regardless, so everyone starts off on the same level.
I can’t believe today was our last company visit. The trip is winding down to an end and it flew by in a blink of an eye. I feel like I would be open to getting a job here in Vietnam (cough cough Glass Egg…), but even if I don’t I’d love to visit again.
Signing off for the last time 🙁