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Jobless rate shines spotlight on education system

Jul 19. 2016
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INCREASING unemployment in Thailand during the past few months reflects the lack of new investment in the country while most industries still lack skilled labour, showing the failure of the country’s education sector, according to the Federation of Thai I

However, although the unemployment rate rose last month to 1.2 per cent, business lobbies don’t see it as a problem yet, as most industries have maintained their employment levels. The higher jobless rate is a result of new university graduates being unable to find jobs because of the lack of new investment, while some of them are unable to serve industry demands.

Chen Namchaisiri, chairman of the FTI, said most industries had not laid off existing workers as many of them still employ foreign workers and need skilled labour.

He said recent layoffs in the auto industry were the result of the expiration of labour contracts, and not because of slowing business growth.

He added that new bachelor’s-degree graduates had faced difficulty finding jobs because their skills did not serve industry demand, which is mostly for vocational-school graduates.

Chen said the higher unemployment rate reflected the failure of the Thai education system to produce workers to serve industry growth.

Particularly with the government’s focus on high-technology industry clusters, it should develop the country’s education system to focus on producing skilled workers and improving the image of the vocational schools, he said.

“Thai vocational schools must be rebranded. The federation has encouraged the vocational schools to cooperate with international vocational schools to improve their course syllabus and image so that more Thai parents will be willing to send their [children] to study at vocational schools, which could guarantee their employment after graduation.”

The FTI has been cooperating with a number of foreign vocational schools to promote professional careers. Targeted countries with experience in producing quality vocational graduates include Japan, Austria and Germany.

According to the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, unemployment has risen continuously from an average of 0.6-0.9 per cent a few years ago to 1.2 per cent last month.

Moreover, nearly one-third (27 per cent) of the 270,000 students who graduated last year could not find a job, while many industries still need to hire skilled workers, mostly from vocational schools.

The Office of the Higher Education Commission reported more than half of last year’s 270,000 graduates took degrees in social sciences, humanities, and education sciences, for which there is little demand in industry.

Bhumindr Harinsut, vice chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said higher unemployment was a result of business failing to expand or attract new investment amid low economic growth, but |there were no sign of layoffs currently.

High technology

He said 70-80 per cent of graduates could not respond to industries’ and businesses’ demands, so the unemployment rate had increased for the past few months.

Deputy Commerce Minister Suvit Maesincee admitted that the government’s promotion of the “Thailand 4.0” model would cause unemployment among unskilled labourers. The government will try to relieve this problem and promote the development of the education system.

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