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New study reveals Thai businesses are bullish on technology growth, need more skilled labour

Feb 27. 2019
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By The Nation

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Thailand’s business leaders are concerned that a lack of talent may affect their ability to stay on track for growth in the mid-term future, a new study by Korn Ferry shows.

Of the business leaders, 46 per cent said that the shortage of talent may force them to increase salaries, which will be unsustainable. 

Most businesses in Thailand have ambitious plans to grow their revenue in the near and long term, with 84 per cent of them saying they plan to grow by an average of 36 per cent by 2020 and 47 per cent by 2030. The have similar aggressive plans to boost their human resources – 80 per cent of the businesses intend to boost their headcount by an average of 37 per cent by 2020 and by 48 per cent by 2030. 

However, leaders in Thai organisations surveyed are more cautious about the availability of highly skilled talent. Only 30 per cent of top executives think there will be enough workers by 2030, as opposed to 48 per cent business leaders worldwide. 

The also see technology as being more important than human talent in the future, with 82 per cent saying that technology will overtake humans over the same time period, while 70 per cent rank technology as their highest priority when developing and executing their company’s strategy.

However, most of the business leaders in Thailand do not see the future as a simple battle of man versus machine – 88 per cent said their companies will need more highly skilled workers, with the same number agreeing that technology itself will boost the need for highly skilled jobs.

In a move to deliver their strategies, 86 per cent of the business leaders have forecast their needs for skilled talent, but only 9 per cent have plans that extend through to 2030. 

Though they are anticipating the roles that will have the most impact in the future of work, 82 per cent say they find it easier to plan around technology and other tangible assets, citing pressure from shareholders for quick returns and short leadership tenures as contributing factors.

“The explosion in technology has vastly hastened the pace of business development. Flexible forecasting and business modelling are now more relevant than traditional models, such as five-year plans,” said Michael Distefano, president for Korn Ferry’s Asia-Pacific operations. 

“While scenario planning is critical to business growth, it rarely extends to a ‘people plan’. As skilled workers become the lever of growth in the new economy, organisations must shift this mindset to become more agile and adopt a long-term approach when devising their talent strategy.”

The world is teetering on the brink of an impending skilled labour shortage, set to hit developed and developing economies alike. For Thailand, it’s a challenge of significant proportions, and one that could constrain the country’s economic growth by 6.4 per cent in 2030. Globally, the Korn Ferry study forecasts a talent shortage of 85.2 million skilled workers, resulting in US$8.452 trillion (Bt265.3 trillion) in unrealised revenue across 20 of the world’s major economies in 2030. By 2020, the worker deficit could hit 20.3 million people.

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