TCEB aims to upgrade local MICE skills to international standards
The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is working to upgrade the standards of local human resources in the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) industry to internationally recognised levels as part of its plan to strengthen the country as a major regional destination in this field.
This standardisation is aimed at giving Thailand a greater competitive advantage in the international arena, not just against other countries within the Asean Economic Community (AEC), but also other places in Asia, especially Hong Kong. Clearly, nations all over Asia want a slice of this big cake to help drive their economies.
TCEB plans to play a rising role in helping to produce skilled labour via short-term training programmes while also working with educational institutions to launch MICE courses. Currently, 44 higher-education institutions have joined the programme and some of them plan to make this subject a major in the future, said Nichapa Yoswee, a director at the bureau responsible for MICE.
The MICE industry, though it has grown rapidly in Thailand, faces a shortage of qualified workers, and the TCEB educational programme aims to solve this problem.
Over the next four years, the agency expects to produce about 10,000 new graduates to serve the industry. They will possess not only management skills, but also capability in English and other essential regional languages such as Burmese, Vietnamese, Malay and Mandarin.
At present, the most severe worker shortage is in the project-management area. Beyond management skills, those who take these jobs must be able to understand global business trends to serve both buyers and sellers. The bureau will work with the Labour Ministry's Department of Skill Development in other areas as well.
Before the AEC opens in 2015, the bureau hopes to promote job skills for about 40-50 categories in the industry. But in the early stage, only three will be priorities: electrical workers, forklift operators, and audio- visual personnel. They will be awarded certificates after meeting the agency's criteria. Local MICE operators, especially organisers, will be upgraded too. If they qualify, they will be listed with the agency for getting future work, Nichapa said.
"This is a way to protect the local market from the entry of foreign rivals. Local staff's jobs will be protected with their certificates during the flow of labour following the AEC's establishment," she said.
Provincial hotels with facilities to serve 20-50 people attending MICE functions will also be in focus. The TCEB plans to compile them on a list, aimed at promoting smaller venues as new destinations, not only in Bangkok and other major cities. Equipment, catering, and safety systems will all be scrutinised to ensure they are up to standard.