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Kingdom facing skills gap

Nov 28. 2013
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By Erich Parpart
The Nation

Talent shortage clouds positive employment figures
Global unemployment has broken an all-time record with an average rate of 6 per cent this year, which is expected to remain until 2017. However, unemployment in Southeast Asia was only 4.4 per cent and Thailand was one of the lowest in the region at 0.8 per cent as of August, according to Adecco.
“This all sounds like good news for Asia and Thailand, but there is a real problem of talent shortage in various industries,” Ian Grundy, head of marketing and communications of Adecco Asia, a human resources solution company, said yesterday.
The “job gap” in Asia is essentially the problem of under-skilled workers and overqualified individuals who cannot find a job because their skills do not match the criteria for applicants. 
“Most students leave school without the proper skills and talents that are currently needed by industries and offices,” he said.
According to Adecco’s statistics, 59 per cent of companies in Thailand cannot find available candidates to fill openings because of their lack of technical expertise and unmatched skills or education. Tidarat Kanchnawat, the firm’s director for Thailand and Vietnam, said that in Thailand, employers prefer high-skilled, qualified and experienced candidates, while new graduates apply only for positions they are interested in.
“Construction, infrastructure and manufacturing are among the industries witnessing a severe shortage of labour,” he said.
The main reason for the shortage of non-skilled labour is the government’s policy of paying a minimum monthly salary of Bt15,000 to officials with a bachelor’s degree. The private sector has to increase the salaries of its employees, which increases their cost of production and leads them to outsourcing for labour. 
“Leading industries responsible for economic growth in Thailand are experiencing a shortage of labour and it is affecting the growth of GDP in this country,” he said.
The automobile industry, one of the fastest-growing industries in Thailand, is facing a shortage of skilled workers, while some labour-intensive industries are considering moving their production base elsewhere to get lower-cost workers. 
The top five positions in demand are engineers, salesmen, accountants, administrators and IT experts. The automobile, electronics, FMCG, IT and construction industries are the most sought out. Marketers, engineers, IT experts, salesmen and administrators are the top job-seekers.
The year saw an increase in applicants for all jobs but comparing demand and supply, marketing and IT are the top sought after. However the number of jobs in the fields is not dealing with the demand of job-seekers, causing the high competition. Salesmen, accountants, administrators and engineers are in need but are in continuous shortage.
Next year, Thailand’s employment market will see another shortage especially for highly skilled or specialised staff from the operating to the executive level, who are in high demand from many organisations. 

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