Thailand is providing skill development and vocational training for both Thai workers and those in neighboring countries, in preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The promotion of skill development is crucial as ASEAN is moving toward its vision for a free flow of skilled labor within the region.
Inspector-General of the Department of Skill Development Teerapol Khunmuang said that, in the future, Thailand is likely to invest more overseas, especially in neighboring countries. Skill development is, therefore, important, not only for Thais, but also for Cambodian, Lao, and Myanmar workers.
In the 2014 fiscal year, he said, a budget of eight million baht had been allocated to the Department of Skill Development through the Chiangsaen International Institute for Skill Development for use to train workers in neighboring countries. With the fund, the Department aims to train 600 Lao workers and 400 Lao trainers from 23 to 27 June 2014. It will also help develop skills in training course management for workers in the restaurants operated by Thai investors in Laos.
As for Laos, Mr. Teerapol said, it wants Thailand to provide skill development programs in the service and hotel sectors to cope with the growing tourism industry. Moreover, Laos also wants Thailand to provide training in English and ASEAN languages.
Meanwhile, former Advisor to the Tourism Authority of Thailand Auggaphol Brickshawana, who is now an executive of the Regent Group, said that Thailand’s tourism industry has grown significantly. There are more than 13,000 registered hotels across the country. Demand for skilled workers is very high; at least one million workers are needed for this sector.
He said that tourism in other ASEAN countries, such as Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam, is also growing and that these countries still have a shortage of skilled workers. If more hotels are opened there, it is believed that many Thai skilled workers will be encouraged to work there. In this situation, entrepreneurs in Thailand would face even more problems concerning shortages of skilled workers.
Hotel staff members that are now in shortage include housekeepers, receptionists, and personnel working for food preparation. In order to ease the shortage, Mr. Auggaphol said that the Regent Group plans to set up an international institute to train personnel in tourism and hotel industries. The training program will last about nine months.
He said that the institute would admit personnel from other ASEAN countries for training, as well. Toward the realization of the ASEAN Community in 2015, Thailand expects to see an increase in the number of visitors to the country and the entire ASEAN region.