UNLIKE MANY other secondary schools, Wat Laem Chabang School has been successful in persuading students to go on into technical and vocational education streams, thanks to inspiration by Unithai’s vocational training programme.
In 2011, the school in Chon Buri province collaborated with Unithai Group to initiate vocational training and a school safety programme for the lower-secondary students (Grades 7-9) with the aim of providing basic knowledge and skills in mechanical and electrical maintenance with safe practices always foremost in mind.
Teerapon Udomkanjananan, managing director of Unithai Shipyard and Engineering, said the company’s engineers had been volunteering their time to share their expertise in regular training classes at the school.
Besides automotive and electrical/electronic fields, Unithai extended the programme into welding training last year. The company also increased the training period of each course from 60 hours to 100 hours, allowing students to obtain more effective instruction.
The courses take place for two hours a week, with 20 per cent of the instruction at the school and the rest practical training in a workshop at Unithai shipyard in Laem Chabang.
“The vocational training is a key part of the company’s efforts for the sustainable development of the community. In response to the need of citizens in Laem Chabang, the project is aimed at enhancing local youngsters’ learning opportunities. It also is in line with the government’s policy to increase the number of students enrolling in technical and vocational education streams,” Teerapon said.
Weerapat Sa-nhuansap, director of Wat Laem Chabang School, said the vocational training programme enabled the students to gain substantial basic knowledge. Importantly, it inspires students to go into technical fields. Last year, more than 90 per cent of the students who completed Mattayom 3 (Grade 9) continued their studies at various technical colleges.
“Wat Laem Chabang School provides kindergarten to lower secondary education levels with about 300 students, mostly from low-income families. The vocational training programme will create opportunities for the students to study at higher levels,” Weerapat said.
The school will encourage trained students to provide free services for people in the community, including motorcycle and electrical repairs. This enhances their capabilities and awareness on contributing to society.
According to the Office of the Vocational Education Commission, about 60 per cent of students are in general education and the rest in vocational education. Industries are facing a shortage of skilled workers, which will eventually affect the country’s competitiveness. Therefore, the commission is encouraging lower-secondary students to pursue further studies in technical and vocational colleges through various measures to ensure quality standards of vocational education, job opportunities and career paths.
Narongsak Inorn, a welding engineer in Unithai’s offshore fabrication division specialising in quality control, has been passing on his knowledge to the students for three years. He acknowledged that there was a severe shortage of welders in various industries because most students are not interested in learning the trade as they are afraid it is dangerous.
Only 10 students are in the welding course, where they learn safety procedures, basic metallurgy, welding processes and non-destructive testing.
In addition to vocational training, Unithai offers a safety programme. The students are taught how to identify potential risks in their daily lives and make safely a habit at home and at school. At the same time, the programme develops leadership skills and encourages them to assume responsibility in aiding and caring for others.
Teerapon said that besides building awareness on safety, the campaign encourages youth to develop a thinking process that is a crucial foundation for educational development. Success in this endeavour will benefit not just the local community but also society and the country at large.
Moreover, Unithai has partnered with the Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology to support staff volunteers with capability in relevant fields to be “STEM ambassadors”.
Its latest project in supporting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education is aimed at improving youngsters’ ability to think and analyse in order to resolve, in practical ways, problems that crop up every day.
Unithai and the school will jointly organise STEM activities to encourage student participation and expression, which remain weaknesses among Thai children. The STEM ambassadors will help inspire young people about careers in these fields and encourage them to become more creative and innovative.