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Push for skilled foreign workers

Mar 15. 2016
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By The Nation

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THE Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade will this month urge the Joint Public-Private Committee to consider bringing more highly skilled foreign workers into Thailand to boost the country’s productivity, competitiveness and growth in target indust

Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of the TCC and the Board of Trade, plans to propose to the committee, which is chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the plan to appoint a special working committee to conduct a feasibility study on increasing the supply of highly skilled foreign workers.

This would help the country with technology transfers necessary to support target growth industries, as well as boost Thailand’s productivity and overall competitiveness.

This would increase investors’ confidence in the target industries, which are necessary to drive the country’s economy in the future, the chamber believes. It says it is necessary to restructure manufacturing to keep up with today’s rapid technological advancements to ensure efficiency and productivity. This is necessary to help push Thailand towards high per-capita income.

Certain regulations to accommodate skilled foreign workers can be completed in three to four months, Isara thinks, while other laws may take more time.

Highly skilled labour accounts for only 5 per cent of the country’s manpower, which the chamber believes is inadequate to support the country’s future economic growth and development. Thailand would need to have at least 10 per cent skilled labour to ensure continuing economic growth and prosperity. The TCC and Board of Trade believe that highly skilled foreign workers will help draw investment to high-technology businesses, which would raise the country’s productivity and competitiveness.

Thailand’s productivity index stands at only US$2.55 (Bt89.50) per worker compared with twice that figure for Malaysia and fivefold higher for Malaysia’s agricultural sector.

The TCC thinks Thailand has to become more productive to improve its agricultural and industrial manufacturing efficiency, which is needed to drive the economy.

It says the government must try to help Thailand achieve at least 5-per-cent annual economic growth for the country to shift to a higher income category after the 13th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2026).

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