The municipal Department of Industry (DoI) has drawn up three major plans to help the local footwear and leather industry achieve annual growth of 15% until 2005, according to DoI deputy director Nguyen Thanh Lap.

Lap said the first plan involves the establishment of vocational schools for training shoe and leather workers. ‘Unskilled workers make up the bulk of the work force at the city’s shoe and leather enterprises’, he said. The country has only two colleges with departments offering training for the shoe and leather industry. HCM City has no vocational schools involved in such training.

‘Under the plan, between 5,000 and 7,000 leather and shoe workers will be trained at new vocational schools, which will also train technicians, managers, and designers’, Lap said.

‘A shortage of raw leather is also a major problem,’ Lap said. ‘The city will need 33,800 tonnes of tanned leather a year until 2005, much more than the forecasted 18,000 tonnes annual capacity.’

HCM City tanneries are capable of producing about 2.2 million sq m of leather, but last year they manufactured just 1.5 million sq m due to a lack of hides. Lap blamed the industry’s low output on Vietnam’s undeveloped cattle industry and said that to get materials to the leather and shoe industry, the second project will focus on developing domestic cattle herds and farms. The project will grant cattle raisers long-term loans at low interest rates to encourage them to raise cattle in modern farms, he said.

In the third scheme, Lap said the city plans to develop a leather footwear industrial park for enterprises specialising in materials and accessories for all kinds of shoemaking.