PARENTS, friends and media content, especially from movies and televisions, are still the strongest influences on Thai students as they choose careers and the field of study to pursue at university.
Suphan Mongkolsuthree, Krungthai Bank chairman of the corporate governance and social responsibility committee, said that students however should be allowed to choose careers they really prefer and are a good fit with their capabilities.
“Any profession has good benefit, not only to individuals themselves but also the whole society. Students should be consulted by academics and business community, which careers they will choose to best fit with their capabilities and fulfil their personal working achievements,” said Suphan.
Suphan said that digital technologies have played a vital role in the emergence of new careers, especially in media and digital technology. Those are in addition to traditional and significant jobs, such as finance, auditing, accounting, law and medicine.
“Today, a new generation of students want to be successful in their work life in a very short period of time. They decide to work in media and IT firms when they graduate so that they can enjoy a quick return from those popular jobs.
“However, this trend will cause a shortage of workers in some other careers, such as state officials, which provide lower salaries and take a longer period of time for people to be successful in life,” Suphan said. Even state agencies need to immediately plan for how to deal with the labour shortage problem and to attract good talent to their organisations in the future, he added.
Suphan said the government needs to let the private sector get more involved in education “so that individual students will learn about the real working experience”. In my point of view, the industrial sector will face a shortage of labour caused by the lower birth rate of the Thai people.
“I’m quite concerned that in the future newly graduated students, who are still selecting jobs, will be under unemployed, being replaced by robots,” said Suphan.
“Newly graduated students then need to improve themselves both on working skills and how to comply themselves with new technologies,” he added.
Suphan said the toughened foreign labour law would likely add to further pressures on the labour market if the number of migrant workers shrank.
Kiatanantha Lounkaew, assistant to the vice president for research, Dhurakij Pundit University, said that it is a well-known fact that the unemploy-ment rate is the highest for those with university degree. Recent release by the National Statistical Office showed that there were around 169,000 unemployed graduates, up by 56,000 people from last year.
It’s clear that the labour market does not favour university graduates, he said. Yet many parents still believe that having a university degree is the path to a good life, at least in an economic sense, said Kiatanantha.
Employers need someone with a university degree in science, technology or other technical areas, yet most graduates hold degrees in social sciences, business and humanities.
A second problem is the skill gap. Even a graduate with the right degree might not be able to find a job due to lack of ability to put what they learnt into practice. Also, Kiatanantha said, students are taught to rely on memory rather than improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
“What we – parents, teachers, media – should be promoting is to urge our children to discover what they are good at and assist them in pursuing that path.”
Kiatanantha concluded, “There is ample evidence that students who went through hands-on learning with industries perform considerably better in terms of employment prospect compared to their peers without such exposure.”