Economic czar presses for labor reforms for Thailand 4.0

thlabor4-0Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak pressed the Ministry of Labor last week to rapidly formulate a human resource development master plan to ensure that Thailand turns out enough skilled and innovative workers to meet the needs of industries key to the Thailand 4.0 national development policy.

“Many companies have already submitted applications related to these new industries to the Board of Investment. Over the next five years those projects are set to be implemented, but concrete labor upgrade plans from the Labor Ministry itself are not yet available,” he said.

Thailand 4.0 is the 20-year national policy of creating an economy based on innovation, higher technology and advanced industries. One of the major challenges to achieving this evolution is developing a workforce capable of handling the demanding types of job in crucial industries, and who can innovate and create. Thailand has many such workers already, but not nearly as many as will be required to accomplish Thailand 4.0.

The industries the government is focusing on developing under Thailand 4.0 are automotive and auto parts, including electric vehicles; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and bio-chemicals; digital; and medical services.

The Ministry of Labor must develop a master plan, Somkid said, to ensure that these industries will be supplied with enough workers with the right skills and abilities for the evolution to succeed.

“The ministry has to have clear data about demand for human resources in each sector for future development,” he said. “It’s also a must for the ministry to carry out plans to upgrade unskilled laborers and determine how to recruit more foreign workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia to help develop Thailand’s existing industries.

“In the future, the private sector may need to play a greater role to help train foreign workers and provide them with a better quality of life. Thailand is becoming an ageing society with a smaller workforce,” Somkid added.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha instructed the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Industry, and the Ministry of Education to work together and gather more complete and accurate information about labor. They need to collect information from entrepreneurs and small businesses, as well as large corporations, he added.

Thailand still has an insufficient number skilled workers, researchers, and managers, he said. He cited a shortage of technicians in aircraft maintenance as an example. Aircraft maintenance is a growing industry with great potential for Thailand, as THAI Airways and the government are planning on building a regional aircraft service center near Bangkok.

After many months of gathering information, the time has come for the ministry to come up with concrete plans to develop more skilled labor, Somkid said.

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