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'Vocational skills needed, not degrees'

The Nation, Bangkok, 13 July 2015 - ALMOST 60 per cent of Thai employers need vocational graduates and just 29 per cent require workers with a university degree, yet university education continues to be more popular, according to research.

So, Thailand has ended up with a surplus of university graduates and a shortage of vocational labour, the research shows.

As a result, the problem of job mismatching is likely to increase over the next five years, academics said on a panel discussion about the challenge of producing Thai skilled labour and the Asean Economic Community. The talk was organised by Mahidol University's Institute for Population and Social Research.

Researchers Jongjit Rittirong and Reena Tadee said the problem stems from society's negative attitude toward vocational schools.

According to their research, most people highly value university degrees while most employers need skilled labourers.

At the moment, Thailand is highly in need of skilled labours in three sectors - motoring, food and tourism, said Jongjit, in reference to information released by human resource consultancy company Adecco Group Thailand.

Other sectors in need of skilled labourers include communication technology, consumer goods, construction and engineering.

Teamwork, language and communication skills are the three most important skills that workers need to meet demands of the labour market, according to Jongjit.

She said most entrepreneurs want vocational schools and universities to be more connected to industries to increase the opportunity for students to intern in enterprises, as most university graduates lack practical skills when entering the job market.

She suggested vocational schools and universities step up cooperation with companies so students can be exposed to real work environments for around two semesters.

She noted a World Economic Forum report, saying that last year Thailand was ranked 31st internationally for competitiveness and third in Asean behind Singapore and Malaysia.

There are at least three countries in Asean that need improvement in terms of competency in English - Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand.

Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines have the advantage of not suffering from an ageing population while Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines have an abundance of skilled labour.


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