Columnist Suwatchai Songwanich explains how China is tackling the problem of its 69 million children “left behind” by migrating parents, by having its companies offer childcare to attract the best recruits in a tightening labour market. Thailand has the same problem, with villages and towns full of skipped-generation households where children are being brought up by grandparents. Studies and educational rankings show this has a very damaging effect on the children’s development – especially in the crucial stage from ages 0 to five – which is in turn hampering efforts to build the skilled workforce needed to develop the “Thailand 4.0” economy.
Chinese businesses understood the instant benefits of keeping families together, and developed a model that could also easily work in Thailand. The Thai government could, for example, provide or subsidise quality early-childhood education at workplaces staffed by large numbers of migrants. As Suwatchai remarks, happier families would be the biggest bonus.