Vocational colleges working with FTI to meet labor demand

Aug 3_5The Federation of Thai Industries said last week it has begun working with the Vocational Education Commission to guide vocational colleges towards providing students with the skills to match jobs that employers need to fill, as 14 industries will require 190,000 skilled workers in the next two years.

A strong job market is an indicator of an economy that is poised for greater growth. Labor shortages, however, can inhibit economic expansion, and so Thailand’s business community is forging more partnerships with the country’s education sector to help retool the economy and provide better opportunities for graduates. Skilled labor is especially important for Thailand’s manufacturing sector, which has been a pillar of economic strength for the Kingdom since the 1980s.

In addition, the government took steps last week to ensure that children in remote villages are not shut out of schooling. The Ministry of Education cancelled a plan initiated by the previous government to shut down small schools and merge their students into larger schools, requiring the students to travel greater distances. Studies by the United Nations have shown that the distance traveled to school can be a significant barrier to education among the poor.

Instead of shutting small schools, the Ministry will adopt alternative measures, such as using interactive television link ups to provide distance learning if no teachers can be recruited for isolated towns and villages. The Ministry is also planning to offer teachers a bonus of up to $71 a month if they accept postings to remote schools.

In the skilled labor market, particularly high demand is emerging for qualified vocational graduates in specific industries, such as the automobile and food industries. The Vocational Educational Commission has said it will pay special attention to those fields.

Thavorn Chalassathien, chairman of the Human Capacity Building Institute of the Federation of Thai Industries, said 14 industries would need 187,960 skilled workers by 2017. Fifty percent of the vacancies will be for factory mechanics.

“To respond to the labor market’s needs, we have already worked with colleges run by the commission to organize dual-educational programs,” Thavorn said. During the past three years, more than 20,000 businesses and over 200,000 students have joined dual-educational programs.

The FTI is also promoting improved teacher training for vocational colleges and schools to ensure that teachers have the skills and knowledge needed to produce quality human resources for Thai industries.

“At the very least, they need training with new equipment in the industries,” Thavorn said. “We’re going to position vocational graduates as specialists who build the nation.”

This year, vocational students numbered 202,410, higher than the target of 178,538 and up from only 160,590 last year.


Thailand Focus August 3rd, 2015
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