A shortage of workers means Vietnamese garment and textile firms may not fulfil this year's export target of $2.5 billion.

They are finding it hard to recruit the 200,000 skilled workers needed each year to fulfil export targets of $4-5 billion by 2005.

The country only has two garment colleges which struggle to meet demand, an increasing number of workers are being sent to work in Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea, and a quarter of workers coming into the clothing industry from other areas have to be retrained.

The shortage is also attributed to the fact that many employees leave domestic garment and textile companies to work for foreign-invested enterprises with higher salaries said Diep Thanh Kiet, general director of the Ho Chi Minh City Textile & Apparel Association.