Economy and Investment

Preparing Thai Workforce for the ASEAN Community and Special Economic Zones

by Duangkamol Buranasomphop


Thailand is preparing its workforce for the launch of the ASEAN Community in late 2015 and the establishment of the special economic zones in various border areas of the country.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of the National Committee on Skill Development and Coordination of Occupational Training, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon on 11 February 2015 at Government House. Also participating in the meeting were Labor Minister General Surasak Karnjanarat and Permanent Secretary for Labor Nakorn Silpa-Archa.

Speaking at the meeting, General Prawit pointed out that human resource development is crucial for driving Thailand’s economy, which is growing together with the country’s industrial expansion. In particular, the arrival of the ASEAN Community will lead to greater demand for high-quality labor in various industries, such as those involved with automobiles and auto parts, construction, food, agro-industry, and logistics. It will also generate more income from tourism and services.

Apart from infrastructure development, he said, skill development is also in great need, as it will increase productivity and enhance the country’s competitiveness. As Thailand is developing its special economic zones, it needs to help with skill training for migrant workers, as well, to cope with the growing demand for skilled labor.

In other related news, the Ministry of Labor has set up an ASEAN Division to deal with ASEAN labor, in preparation for the soon-to-be ASEAN Community. In the 2015 fiscal year, the Ministry, through the Department of Skill Development, has set a target to develop communication skills in English and ASEAN languages for 21,480 workers and entrepreneurs.

A study conducted by the Thailand Development Research Institute shows that Thai workers need to develop their ability in both languages and information technology. The study indicates that more Thai students should be urged to pay greater attention to vocational education, as well. At the same time, various professional associations should be strengthened.

As the automotive industry has set a target to produce 3.5 million car units by 2020, demand for skilled workers in this industry is expected to be 124,000 between 2013 and 2020. In order to deal with this situation, the Department of Skill Development and the automotive industrial sector have been cooperating in providing skill development for workers in the industry.

When the ASEAN Community emerges, there will be greater mobility of skilled workers who move across national boundaries within the region. However, professionals in eight fields will be provided with free movement, under the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangements. The eight fields include accountancy, engineering, surveying, architecture, nursing, medical services, dental services, and tourism.


Duangkamol Buranasomphop

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