MONDAY, April 15, 2024

Most Thais believe equity necessary to address shortage of skilled workforce

Most Thais believe equity necessary to address shortage of skilled workforce

Openness and equity at work are urgently needed for women to pursue their careers, especially in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) industries, a survey shows.

The 2023 3M State of Science Index (SOSI) report released last month shows that gender equity will play a significant role in addressing Thailand’s skilled workforce shortage.

Wiyada Srinaganand, country leader of 3M Thailand, said some 89% of Thai respondents believe STEM professionals can help solve tomorrow’s problems. 

However, equality in STEM professions remains a significant challenge because many people, especially women, get overlooked or under-supported despite their obvious potential.

For instance, she said, maternity was one of the most common problems in STEM fields. She said mothers-to-be typically end up quitting their jobs due to a lack of support at the workplace.

To avoid this, she said, companies should make adjustments and allow new mothers to continue working while they take care of their children.

“As a science-based company, 3M places special importance on addressing equity in STEM and skilled trades to support a diverse pipeline of talent for generations to come,” she said.

Wiyada added that 3M’s work culture is designed to support diversity and inclusion, thus fostering innovation and collaboration.

Meanwhile, Thai respondents agreed that 87% of underrepresented groups and 79% of women in STEM fields have untapped potential. If given a chance, these groups can play a vital role in boosting the country’s economy.

In fact, 86% of Thai respondents concur that more needs to be done to entice and keep students from underrepresented groups interested in STEM education, and 89% say underrepresented groups frequently do not receive equal access to STEM education.

Besides, 92% of respondents indicated that if this shortage problem is not addressed soon, there may be negative economic consequences, declines in overall quality of life, safety risks, neglected public infrastructure and supply chain challenges.

SOSI 2023 also learned that 86% of Thai respondents believe that science plays a key role in improving the lives of vulnerable populations, while 88% want to hear what scientists think about societal issues, particularly the impact of climate change.

The report showed that most Thais believe science and technology can address the impact of global warming.

The top five technologies are eco-friendly construction materials, efficient resource utilisation, air-pollution filtration technology, disaster-resilient building materials and affordable electric transportation.

Wiyada said the report’s findings highlight the critical issues that organisations, communities and individuals must address to prepare for the future.

“Understanding how people perceive science and its impacts is critical to improving the way we create and innovate solutions,” she noted.

Meanwhile, she said, 3M is using the report’s insights to launch initiatives in Thailand.

The SOSI survey looks into global attitudes towards science by gathering information on what people think and feel about the field and its impact on the world.

This is SOSI’s sixth year, but Thailand's first. The latest survey was conducted from September to December last year in 17 countries, namely the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Taiwan, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Spain, China, India, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Thailand, and Australia.

The survey covered a thousand of general consumers in each country.