THE COUNTRY’S first technical vocational education and training (TVET) hub is up and running in the northern province of Chiang Mai
with the aim to produce a workforce that meets the requirements of various industries especially in the automotive, food and agricultural technology, and electronics sectors.
The newly opened TVET hub was launched by Chevron (Thailand), the Kenan Institute Asia and the Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna (RMUTL).
The centre is part of the “Chevron Enjoy Science” campaign, following the success of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) hubs.
The US$30-million (Bt1.05-billion), five-year, public-private partnership campaign aspires to develop Thailand’s competitiveness and innovation by improving STEM and TVET hubs across the country. Other partners in the Chevron campaign include the National Science Technology and Innovation Policy Office (STI) and the National Science Museum.
Chevron’s business support general manager Artit Krichphiphat told a press conference at the RMUTL recently that the TVET hub project intended to have a positive impact on communities including in terms of education in what was deemed a crucial national agenda.
“We need to enhance workforce competency by training people with technical skills and STEM education so they can develop critical thinking and analytical processes towards innovation,” he said.
He said the project would not only serve the needs of industry but also allow skilled workers to apply knowledge to their everyday lives.
He said new hubs in Samut Prakan and Songkhla provinces were planned for later this year. With the Chiang Mai hub used as the model, six TVET hubs would be built within five years, he added.
Kenan Institute Asia president Piyabutr Cholvijarn said vocational education in Thailand faced a shortage of skilled and experienced teachers, modern tools and equipment, and connectivity with business. “We should apply STEM learning as the foundation in vocational education,” he said.
“The hub will be a base for the sustainable development of teachers and students through better equipment and knowledge to cater for the demand of industries in the fast-changing world.”
RMUTL president Assoc Prof Dr Numyoot Songthanapitak said the Chiang Mai hub would serve as a cooperation centre among industries and associated schools, a training centre for teachers and students, and a research and development centre for improving teaching curricula.
“RMUTL was selected to be a hub because it is ready in terms of personnel, location and equipment, which can lead to the project’s sustainability,” Numyoot said, adding that the hub would work with 13 schools and five vocational institutes in eight northern provinces.
“The TVET hub will allow teachers to experience and practise technical work in real workplaces, which will in turn equip them with industry-specific knowledge that they can transfer to their students later,” he said. “The hub will serve as a vocational learning centre which is fully equipped with industrial tools, meaning students and teachers are given firsthand experience in performing some industrial-specific tasks such as drafting, designing, moulding and 3D printing.”
STI secretary-general Kittipong Promwong said the country’s industrial sector needed more than 100,000 skilled workers while the quality and quantity of the technical workforce were far behind demand. “The establishment of the TVET hub is the cornerstone of high quality technical-workforce production to drive the country forward as per the technology and innovation-oriented Thailand 4.0 policy,” he said.
Ratchanon Techapom, 17, a first year pre-engineering vocational student at RMUTL, said: “I feel excited to practise in the TVET hub because there are a lot of new tools and equipment I can try to use.”
RMUTL vocational teacher Jakkarin Intrasri, 26, said: “Students will experience how to work in actual workstations, and they will be trained to think and solve problems.”