AFFECTED by a shortage of skilled technicians and engineers in infrastructure development, the provincial Department of Education in Hubei, China, has urged the Thai Office of the Vocational Education Commission (Ovec) for collaboration to formulate joint
Initially, Hubei province is looking for vocational training for the railway industry, particularly high-speed-train technology. In parallel with China’s expansion of railway projects in Asean, Hubei, which has a large number of vocational and technical colleges that provide courses related to the railway industry, is seeking collaboration with Asean countries to train manpower in response to the huge demand for skilled technicians in construction, operations and maintenance for railway-project development.
In Thailand, the Chinese government has proposed the development of a medium-speed railway network (180km/h) on two routes – Nong Khai-Nakhon Ratchasima-Kaeng Khoi-Map Ta Phut and Kaeng Khoi-Bangkok – for a total distance of 873 kilometres, to link with the China-Laos rail route in Nong Khai/Vientiane.
A joint Thailand-China committee will hold its fifth meeting |on the project at the end of this month.
Aganit Klungsang, Ovec’s deputy secretary-general, has said that as Thailand becomes a hub of Asean economies and part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” Initiative – proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013 as a way to revive ancient trade links between Asia and Europe – Hubei’s Department of Education has placed great emphasis on collaborating with Thailand on vocational training to prepare professionals for rapid infrastructure development.
Ovec and the Hubei Department of Education signed a memorandum of understanding last Wednesday for a five-year collaboration plan.
The two parties will set up a joint working group to design the scope of the action plan, including vocational training, an exchange programme for teachers, a pilot project, development of professional standards, and scholarships granted to Thai students.
Moreover, studying at vocational schools in China will enable students to learn Mandarin and understand more about Chinese culture.
“In principle, the parties have agreed that Hubei’s participating colleges should provide Thai-language programmes, while Thailand’s participating colleges will provide Chinese-language programmes.
Thai students who complete a one-year training course at Hubei colleges will receive high vocational certificates in both Thailand and China,” Aganit said.
He said the MoU was collaboration at a ministerial level.
Earlier, Banphai Industrial and Community College in Khon Kaen formed a partnership with Wuhan Railway Vocational College of Technology in Hubei province in June 2015 to provide dual educational programmes for high vocational certificates.
Junya Pabu, director of Banphai Industrial and Community College, said the school had initiated a programme on rail-oriented mechanical techniques, which was approved by Ovec last year.
In a pilot project, there are five pioneering colleges – Banphai, Phitsanulok Technical College, Lopburi Technical College and Nakhon Si Thammarat Technical College – that provide the course for students.
This month, the Banphai college sent 10 students to Wuhan Railway Vocational College of Technology for an eight-month study programme on railway operations and management, power-supply technology, and inspection and maintenance of high-speed trains. In addition, the Wuhan college helps students learn Mandarin.
Moreover, Cho Thavee, a company that has won a contract to build a tram system in Khon Kaen, granted scholarships to the 10 students.
The company will recruit all of them when they complete the high-vocational level.
The company plans to commence construction this year with a schedule for completion in five years.
Junya said the Banphai college had also reached an agreement with Bangkok Mass Transit System in April to provide a dual education programme.
The students will learn at the college for one year and practise their skills at BTS operations for another year.