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More Thai youth favour life of an entrepreneur among Asean peers 

Nov 20. 2018
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AMONG THE Asean bloc, Thailand has the largest percentage of youth who want to become entrepreneurs, according to a survey by Sea Group in partnership with the World Economic Forum.


Meanwhile, online education is not popular among the Thai youth surveyed.

Santitarn Sathirathao, group chief economist at Sea Group said the online survey conducted with the World Economic Forum (WEF) aimed to understand the thoughts of Thai youth regarding future employment prospects in the 4th Industrial Revolution era.

Some 42,000 respondents under 36 years completed the Youth and Entrepreneurship in Thailand 4.0 survey in July 2018, using the Shopee and Garena platforms. 

“The Asean-wide report was published in September 2018 and generated widespread interest, particularly among business leaders and policy-makers,” said Santitarn. “A follow-up deep dive study on Thailand was then conducted, with around 10,000 youths participating in that survey.”

The study garnered insights in four areas – Thai youth have the strongest entrepreneurial spirit in Asean; they are first motivated by income and then work-life balance when looking for jobs; they have divided views about the impacts of technology on jobs; and they underutilise online education opportunities.

Youths in Thailand are 13 per cent more likely to want to be entrepreneurs than the average in the rest of Asean nations. As well, 36 per cent of Thai youths want to become entrepreneurs in the future.

The youths without a Bachelor’s degree are significantly more likely to aspire to become entrepreneurs –42 per cent of those without a degree compared to 25 per cent with a college degree or higher. Those with higher education seem to have more diverse aspirations, ranging from working for the government, being self-employed, or in a family business.

Becoming a business owner is the top choice for those currently not working, or are working for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) or start-ups. Only around 20 per cent of respondents working for SMEs and start-ups want to continue doing so.

“This begs the question of whether entrepreneurs themselves can find the right talent to help their businesses grow, given that most people would rather start their own business instead,” said Santitarn.

He added that 42 per cent of youths in Thailand rank having a stable income as the most important consideration when looking for a job. This was followed by 30 per cent of respondents selecting work-life balance, and 17 per cent preferring learning and gaining experience. Those with a college degree or higher place even greater emphasis on work-life balance than those without.

 On the other hand, the latter group places more emphasis on learning and gaining experience from the job.

Regarding views on the impact of the rapid shifts in technology on jobs, 47 per cent think the number of jobs will decline, while 67 per cent believe the number of jobs will stay the same or rise with technology. 

The study also found that only 44 per cent have used online educational resources, with less than 10 per cent indicating regular use, one of the lowest rates in Asean. Online education is at least as useful as offline classes, said 64 per cent of respondents, with that number hitting 70 per cent for those without a college degree, versus only 55 per cent of those with a college degree.

Santitarn said that both online and offline training programmes are crucial to help entrepreneurs adopt and thrive in e-commerce. These programmes can be particularly helpful in empowering women and rural-based retailers. He said this is an area where both the public and private sectors need to work together to provide the much-needed training in order to equip youth entrepreneurs with the digital skills needed to thrive in the rapidly changing world.


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