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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        10  June  2011

Thailand needs more skilled workers

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Thailand will face an oversupply crisis in the midlevel labour market if workers do not improve their skills to compete with their counterparts in Vietnam and the Philippines seminar on vocational study was told.

Migration of labour within Asean countries will begin in the next four years and career training and self-development are needed now for Thai workers to be competitive in time, said Associate Professor Somphong Jitradab, a senior official with the Quality Learning Foundation.

Filipino workers are wanted in the service sector elsewhere because of their English skills, while the Vietnamese are hard-working and patient, he said.

Workers from both countries are expected to resume study in vocational fields to enhance their skills.

"By that time, they will possess greater ranges of skills and obtain greater job opportunities. And if Thailand is not ready, they will take a large portion of employment in the mid-level labour market or the service sector."

He said vocational classes in Thailand should be made available at the seventh grade, otherwise it would not be possible to fully educate enough skilled graduates in time.

There are 400,000 graduates with degrees and only 100,000 of them get jobs, while those with vocational degrees graduate in much smaller numbers, but 90 percent of them find jobs, he said.

Weerawat Wannasiri, head of the Federation of Private Vocational Schools of Thailand, proposed making Thailand a regional hub for vocational education, with a large number of government schools and 66 private ones already available.

Few languages are taught in government and private vocational schools.

"Skills alone are not the crucial factor in making Thai workers superior to Singaporeans or Malaysians - we need to improve the Thai workers' English," he added.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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