CHINESE e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Bt11-billion promised investment in Thailand have prompted the country’s higher education institutes to step up their technology and related curriculum in preparation for a rising demand for digital skills.
Suchatchavee Suwansawas, rector of King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, said Jack Ma’s larger presence here via the Alibaba e-commerce, payment, logistics, and tourism projects had further boosted Thai people’s awareness of digital technology, social media, e-commerce and related fields.
Universities in Thailand are now set to produce more graduates in digital technology, “big data” and artificial intelligence (AI), he said.
Ek Pattarathanakul, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Accountancy, said Thai enterprises needed to adapt and learn new things from the Alibaba projects in Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). Another option would be to focus on specific and niche market segments to avoid direct competition with the giant e-commerce and related platforms, he said.
Ek said Thai students needed to take new courses such as digital branding so that they understand the new landscape in the digital economy and society. Meanwhile, graduates with soft skills such as those concerning emotions, ethics and social media will also be sought after by the labour market.
Saowaraj Ratanakamfu of the Thailand Development Research Institute said the biggest challenge in accommodating Alibaba’s investment projects in this country lay in the availability of workers with digital and related skills. This takes on increased importance with Thailand serving as a regional hub for the Chinese giant.
At present, Thailand has more than 427 bachelor’s degree programmes that include digital and related subjects, with a combined capacity to produce over 26,000 graduates in these fields per year. Yet the quality of graduates is not yet sufficiently high in terms of meeting the labour market’s requirement.
All programmes and curriculum need to be updated frequently because technology changes rapidly, Saowaraj said, adding that the country also needed to add value to existing investments in the digital economy to stay competitive. She cited Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan as examples that leverage disruptive technologies, artificial intelligence, big data and the Internet of Things