The Thai-Nichi Institute of Technology, an engineering university founded with the cooperation of Thai and Japanese companies and organisations, was expected to provide Japanese firms with a plentiful supply of workers, but about half of its graduates go
The university in the eastern part of Bangkok, which marks its eighth anniversary this year, was expected to train workers that support monozukuri, the art of making things, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. However, only about half of the students graduating from TNI get jobs at the more than 4,000 Japanese firms operating in Thailand.
Amid a tight labour market with the unemployment rate at around 1 per cent, TNI graduates who have mastered manufacturing skills are in great demand.
Japanese firms that supported the establishment and operation of the university are voicing disappointment at the insufficient supply of skilled workers from the university.
TNI has a workshop equipped with a variety of large machinery, such as metalworking machines and presses, that were bought with donations from major Japanese manufacturers, including Mitsubishi Electric, DMG Mori Seiki and Makino Milling Machine.
Under normal traffic conditions, it takes about 30 minutes to drive from central Bangkok to the university, where more than 3,000 students are now studying.
The university was born from the Technology Promotion Association (Thailand-Japan), which was set up in 1973 by Thais who had studied and trained in Japan.
In 2003, when the association celebrated its 30th anniversary, it decided to start a university aimed at nurturing highly skilled engineers and technicians and providing talented workers for industry.
Far from ideal
The steep appreciation of the yen after the 1985 Plaza Accord prompted many Japanese firms to shift production bases to Asean countries, including Thailand, prompting an urgent need to recruit local engineering staff.
The university places emphasis on “practical education in Japanese-style manufacturing in Thailand”.
It was opened in 2007 with the help of Japanese companies that donated teaching materials and production equipment and introduced a scholarship programme.
TNI consists of three departments – engineering, information technology and business administration – and also provides education at the graduate level and basic Japanese language courses.
In a rare move for a local university, it also runs classes on the design and production of moulds and dies.
Krisada Visavateeranond, pre-sident of TNI, who studied at Kyoto University and is fluent in Japanese, said TNI wanted to nurture students who can meet strong demand from Japanese firms, especially smaller ones, for Thai engineers capable
of leading their local units in the future.
TNI, which has ties with many Japanese institutions, such as technical schools and universities specialising in engineering, sends about 80 students a year to Japan for short-term education and other purposes.
The TNI head pledged to promote more educational exchanges.