Skills upgrade for 13 million Thai workers needed: Expert

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Around 13 million people, or more than a third of Thailand’s 38-million-strong labour force, need skill upgrades, economic expert Kiatanantha Lounkaew, lecturer at the ‎faculty of economics at Bangkok’s Thammasat University, said at a recent seminar hosted on the latter’s campus.

He noted that Thailand’s education system needs to train people better and produce more skilled workers in order to develop a modern economy and escape the middle-income trap. In particular, information technology, robotics and automation skills are needed to reach the envisaged target of a so-called Thailand 4.0 economy which focuses on digital and innovation-driven businesses.

The 13 million skilled workers would be needed in industries promoted by the government where a fast-changing business environment and a lack of adequate education and training has led to a large gap of skilled labourers, widest in information and communication technologies, food processing, automobile, logistics, healthcare and wellness.

In addition, substantial gaps of soft skills such as creativity, responsibility, work discipline and ability to put knowledge into practice have been determined within the current workforce.

The government is aware of the problem and has been promoting vocational education for workers, and some vocational colleges now collaborate with private companies in order to train their students at factories. But this happens just in area with high industrial density and to a much lesser extent in rural areas where unskilled work in agriculture and services is the norm.

Overall, a recent World Bank survey showed that a whopping 83.5 per cent of Thailand’s workforce is unskilled or insufficiently skilled for the work they are doing. This, in turn, puts Thailand’s skilled workforce at the lowest proportion among other ASEAN countries.

It is considerably lower than in fully developed countries, for example Singapore, Sweden, Finland and Germany, where the share of skilled labour is between 45 per cent and 50 per cent.

And since skilled labour and economic growth are intertwined, the lack of a better trained workforce is an obstacle for Thailand to leave its middle-income status. To reach the target of becoming a high-income nation over the next 20 years, the Thai economy needs to grow an average of five per cent annually – however, growth average since the 2008 global financial crisis was just between two and three percent and additionally impacted by the 2011 floods and the 2014 unrest and coup d’état.

 

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Around 13 million people, or more than a third of Thailand’s 38-million-strong labour force, need skill upgrades, economic expert Kiatanantha Lounkaew, lecturer at the ‎faculty of economics at Bangkok’s Thammasat University, said at a recent seminar hosted on the latter’s campus.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Around 13 million people, or more than a third of Thailand’s 38-million-strong labour force, need skill upgrades, economic expert Kiatanantha Lounkaew, lecturer at the ‎faculty of economics at Bangkok’s Thammasat University, said at a recent seminar hosted on the latter’s campus.

He noted that Thailand’s education system needs to train people better and produce more skilled workers in order to develop a modern economy and escape the middle-income trap. In particular, information technology, robotics and automation skills are needed to reach the envisaged target of a so-called Thailand 4.0 economy which focuses on digital and innovation-driven businesses.

The 13 million skilled workers would be needed in industries promoted by the government where a fast-changing business environment and a lack of adequate education and training has led to a large gap of skilled labourers, widest in information and communication technologies, food processing, automobile, logistics, healthcare and wellness.

In addition, substantial gaps of soft skills such as creativity, responsibility, work discipline and ability to put knowledge into practice have been determined within the current workforce.

The government is aware of the problem and has been promoting vocational education for workers, and some vocational colleges now collaborate with private companies in order to train their students at factories. But this happens just in area with high industrial density and to a much lesser extent in rural areas where unskilled work in agriculture and services is the norm.

Overall, a recent World Bank survey showed that a whopping 83.5 per cent of Thailand’s workforce is unskilled or insufficiently skilled for the work they are doing. This, in turn, puts Thailand’s skilled workforce at the lowest proportion among other ASEAN countries.

It is considerably lower than in fully developed countries, for example Singapore, Sweden, Finland and Germany, where the share of skilled labour is between 45 per cent and 50 per cent.

And since skilled labour and economic growth are intertwined, the lack of a better trained workforce is an obstacle for Thailand to leave its middle-income status. To reach the target of becoming a high-income nation over the next 20 years, the Thai economy needs to grow an average of five per cent annually – however, growth average since the 2008 global financial crisis was just between two and three percent and additionally impacted by the 2011 floods and the 2014 unrest and coup d’état.

 

 

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