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Thailand ignoring bottom 40% of workforce at its peril: academics

Jun 08. 2017
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By The Nation

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Thailand is getting richer because the labour force is working harder, not necessarily smarter, a seminar was told yesterday.

“It’s clear that we have faced a shortage of skilled workers and quality human resources. Now it’s time we change the way we work,” Dhurakij Pundit University assistant vice president Dr Kiat-anan Luankaew said yesterday at the seminar, which focused on how the bottom 40 per cent of Thailand’s workforce in terms of income had been ignored.

He said that instead of using technology, employers had relied on migrant workers from neighbouring countries over the past decade.

“We need to overhaul our manufacturing structure or else Thailand will not be able to compete against other nations,” Kiatanan said. Based on findings from a largescale survey of 40,000 enterprises, the academic said the bottom 40 per cent of Thailand’s workforce should get a quality upgrade so that Thailand can keep pace with the “4.0 era”.

Thailand’s educational sector should also provide adequate teachers, machines and a learning environment suitable for the socalled Thailand 4.0, Kiat-anan said.

The goal of Thailand 4.0 is to develop an innovationdriven society, economy and industries. “Training on equipment taught at schools should not be different from what is installed at real workplaces,” he said. Kiat-anan also recommended a greater promotion of vocational education, which he said should be considered career advancement.

“When compared with university graduates, vocational graduates feel they have less careeradvancement opportunities because the country has not yet built career ladders as high as possible,” he said.

Quality Learning Foundation assistant manager Dr Kraiyos Patrawat also encouraged the government to encourage students to seek vocational education, instead of leaving schools after completing just Prathom 6 or Mathayom 3.

“If they enter the labour market with that level of education, they will just be unskilled workers earning a little income,” he said. He said people’s average years of schooling was now at just 7.9 years while the target was 13.6 years.

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