To support the rising demand for technical graduates, the SCG Foundation is granting a further 250 "Vocational Students for the Nation" scholarships this year in an initiative aimed at boosting the country's infrastructure and growth in the long term.
The programme will help solve the shortage of people with suitable technical skills and create a sustainable technical workforce to support the Kingdom’s growth.
According to data derived from the Education Ministry’s Office of the Permanent Secretary for the period between 2007 and 2011, it was found that almost 60 per cent of those who finished secondary school (Mattayom 1-3) had decided to further their studies in high school (Mattayom 4-6) in order to enter a university.
However, after gaining their bachelor’s degrees, there were insufficient jobs to absorb all these graduates, which led to the unemployment rate rising each year. This runs contrary to demand in the labour market, where the need for technical or vocational graduates continues to expand and where there is a shortage of technically skilled people coming onto the market.
In an attempt to solve this problem, the “SCG Sharing the Dream” programme run by the SCG Foundation is now its second year of granting “Vocational Students for the Nation” scholarships to 250 vocational/technical students, thus widening the education opportunities for Mattayom-3 students who intend to study at vocational-college level in an industrial field, said SCG Foundation director and manager Suvimol Chivaluk.
The scholarships on offer “are unencumbered and will be continuously granted until the beneficiaries graduate with a high vocational certificate in an industrial field. The SCG Foundation recognises the competency of dek chang as capable, specialised technicians”, he said.
This is because during school time, vocational students get hands-on practical job assignments, and this gives them the experience required to be ready to work for real in the workplace after graduation, he added.
The automated workplace
Now that the daily minimum wage has risen to Bt300, industrial factories are increasingly turning to automated technology in their production processes in order to cope with higher labour costs – and this is why they also need highly skilled technicians who are able to control the costly machinery, he explained. The best resource in this new environment is those who chose to study at vocational college in the industrial field in order to become highly competent technicians in the future, he said.
Studying in an industrial field as a vocational student is hard work. The tools and equipment are not only heavy, but practising in the workshop can sometimes also “take a person’s heart”, said the foundation chief, adding this was however all part of the learning process because the curriculum aimed at providing practical knowledge and skills.Vocational students are taught to be tough, persistent and diligent, he said. Excellent technicians cannot be formed in only a day, as it needs “endeavour, love and pride in what one is doing well”.
“In my opinion, learning about something you love and have a special skill in is an important step for youths in advancing themselves in the future. Those who choose to study in vocational college are not incompetent students – rather, they are smart enough to see in themselves what they like and have skills in, and they are very clear about where they are heading,” said Thavorn Chalassathien, acting secretary-general of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI). “After that, they pave the way to their destination. A survey carried by the FTI found that Thailand lacks the right number of technicians, particularly mechanics, electricians and industrial technicians, respectively,” he added.
A student’s view
Besides the interesting point of view and positive attitude of this respected adult, the thoughts of one of the scholarship grantees from last year are especially enlightening. Sarinthip ‘Nong Ping’ Na Pomphet, a first-year vocational student in motor studies at Rattanakosin Technological College in Bangkok – and one of only a small number of female vocational students in the industrial field – had the following to say about the scheme and her experience so far: “First of all, I’d like to thank the SCG Foundation for paying attention to vocational study. To be granted this scholarship really meant so much to me. I come from a normal, standard family, and we didn’t have much. “When finishing Mattayom 3 at Wat Khao Suwannaram School, I was the only one in the class deciding to study in vocational college, and as a result I was the only one granted an SCG Foundation scholarship. I thought that was very cool! I have never had any doubts about studying [in this field], and now I’m going to be a second-year student soon. “There are only two girls in the class, but the fact that the rest are boys isn’t a problem at all. We all help one another, and we work as a team when there are group assignments. There is no discrimination between boys and girls. Most importantly, no one is perfect, but everyone is a friend. “I have been selected to be a home-room leader. Everyone cooperates very well. I am so happy coming to school ... to work together. I feel so warm and friendly about the bonding relationship of being a dek chang,” she said.
To encourage more Mattayom-3 students to continue their education at the vocational-college level, the SCG Foundation is open for scholarship applications from anyone wishing to participate in the second year of the “SCG Sharing the Dream” Vocational Students for the Nation scheme. The deadline for applications is May 30. The application form can be downloaded at www.scgfoundation.org.