The Better Work Vietnam initiative, aimed at improving the country’s industrial performance, is to be extended to cover its footwear industry in the next five years.

Part of a global joint programme from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Better Work aims to align private sector expectations with Vietnam’s laws and core international labour standards, using coaching, training and compliance assessment.

The Memorandum of Understanding to extend the programme until 2019 was signed between Vietnam’s Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, the ILO and the IFC.

Since its inception in 2009, Better Work Vietnam has reached nearly 300,000 workers in more than 200 apparel factories in the south, the equivalent of one quarter of the country’s garment exporters.

More than 50 international buyers and retailers also subscribe to the programme.

“Vietnam is deeply integrating into the global economy,” said Vice Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Doan Mau Diep.

“But to be able to export to such markets as the US, Canada and the EU, our products have to meet requirements of importers and customers, including labour conditions.”

The programme will continue to support enterprises in the export apparel industry, but will now expand its services to footwear, thanks to high demand from buyers, enterprises and stakeholders.