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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        8 March 2011

Japan advises Thailand to boost labor skills

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Thailand should produce about 700,000 skilled labourers to serve the investment influx from Japanese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) after the ongoing revision in the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (Jtepa).

Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of Nippon Keidanren, the Japanese business association, said after meeting with the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) this week that Japan wanted Thailand to develop skilled labour to serve the increasing demand in the industrial sector.

Yonekura, who is also chairman of Sumitomo Chemical, said even his company had to recruit more people. So this is an important issue for industrial development in Thailand.

Dusit Nontanakorn, chairman of the Board of Trade of Thailand, said he had just come back from Japan and had been told by Japanese investors that Japanese SMEs were considering investing in Thailand. It is expected that those companies will require about 700,000 skilled labourers for their investment. So they have asked Thailand whether it is ready to provide enough workers to serve the demand.

Those Japanese companies will invest in the automotive, electronics and electrical appliance industries.

"This is the important issue," Dusit said. "I've told Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva that we have to start thinking and taking action in increasing skilled labourers.

"The demand for 700,000 comes from Japanese firms only. How about those from South Korea, Europe and the US? Thus we have to survey the labour needs from those countries so that we can plan in advance to develop the human resources."

He said that if Thailand could not start taking action on this matter and could not provide human resources to serve the needs, Japan had other choices to go to, such as Vietnam.

"If we look into Asean countries, Indonesia is the biggest market in terms of population, whereas Vietnam has good economic growth. If we think about the financial centre, Singapore will be the answer. The country that is going to have a big project is Burma. So, where's Thailand? Our strengths in the past may be weaknesses now. We have to stop fighting each other and think more about how to develop the country," he said.

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