Thailand faces a chronic and pervasive shortage of qualified technical and vocational workers across all industries, due to the challenges faced by both public and private tertiary education in keeping pace with industry demands, as well as a cultural bias towards a more academic education.

These are among the key findings from a year-long study conducted by the Singapore Management University (SMU), in partnership with global financial services firm JP Morgan, on the skills challenges faced by the Asean economies of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

The shortage of skilled workers is especially pronounced in Thailand’s key growth industries like the automotive, information communications and technology (ICT) and tourism sectors, the study shows.

Addressing this shortfall is necessary if the country is to raise its productivity and realise its ambition of becoming a high income economy by 2027.

Currently, about 35% of Thai students are enrolled in vocational institutions, and of this group, a large number of graduates are found not to be industry-ready, the study shows.

This suggests a need to improve the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) education in the country, especially in the face of a cultural bias against the field.

Low proficiency in English

Low proficiency among the Thai workforce in foreign languages, especially English, poses a challenge
Low proficiency among the Thai workforce in foreign languages, especially English, poses a challenge.

According to the study, the challenge is compounded by the fact curricula in both public and private tertiary education institutions do not reflect the progressive needs of industry, such as research and development work in the automotive industry or the fast-changing skills requirements of ICT.

Low proficiency among the Thai workforce in foreign languages, especially English, poses a challenge for competing effectively internationally. Source :

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