Dual vocational training gets a new lease of life
Initiative between German corporates and Education Ministry aimed at tackling shortage of skilled labourThe Thai-German dual vocational education is moving to another level with major German companies like BMW, Bosch and B Grimm joining a new initiative to address growing worries about shortage of skilled labour.
German Ambassador Rolf Schulze said that a memorandum of understanding would be signed with Thailand's Education Ministry and a new coordination unit formed by the German-Thai Chamber of Commerce and GIZ. In 2013, the German Foreign Office is also expected to approve a fund to partly finance the project.
"This time, we might witness a new beginning: an initiative that is based upon the experience and willingness of the private sector, which seems to be able to keep up the highest standards, and which will be monitored by the German-Thai Chamber of Commerce," the ambassador said last week, at a business talk attended by numerous executives of German companies in Thailand.
"We did always agree that the business community and Thai economy need a better-qualified workforce. This holds true for the booming national economy of Thailand. It also holds true for the more than nearly 600 German companies operating here. They all are in need of highly skilled workers," the ambassador said.
By mid-April, BMW is expected to present its new programme.
Germany's dual system on vocational training was an important factor in the recovery of the country after World War II. The success of the dual system to produce occupational qualifications demanded by the surging economy contributed significantly to the economic success. Since 1969, it has been the backbone of the social market economy, which ensures economic, social and educational benefits. On the economic front, the scheme has supplied the required quantity and quality of occupational qualifications to the employment systems. On the social front, it provides access to occupational qualifications for employment as a condition for income and social integration. On the educational front, it supports the personality development of individuals in order to strengthen civil society.
Such a concept was replicated in Thailand. As the first milestone, the former West Germany helped found the Thai-German Technical School in Bangkok in 1959. Later it became the King Mongkut Institute of Technology, now the King Mongkut's University of Technology, North Bangkok (KMUTNB). In later days, GIZ has been active in vocational training for many years. Important institutions such as the Thai-German Institute (TGI) was established.
Under the new initiative, according to Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana, students will spend two years at school and two years training at the premises of the participating companies.
He said this would solve a crucial issue, as companies are complaining about insufficient supply of qualified workers, particularly engineers in the electrical and computer fields.
According to the business sector, Thai graduates spend at least a year before they can actually work, the minister said. In the first year, they are actually on a training programme, which should have been the government's responsibility, he added.
"Now, we will focus on the supply side, not the demand side. We will turn it around, looking at the demand side. We will focus on task and category of workforce required. This could lead to a tailor-made workforce for each industry or even each factory," the minister said.
Under the initiative, "by the time they are entering factories, they will be able to work right away". Meanwhile, with two years of training, participating private companies will have plenty of time to decide how the students could be useful to their organisations.
He hoped more German firms would take part in the initiative. Siemens was mentioned as Thailand will require a large number of mechanics to implement the government's Bt2 trillion infrastructure programme.
The issue of labour shortage was raised during the visits to Bangkok by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in April and Economic Minister Philipp Rosler in September. And it was raised when Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra visited Berlin in July. KMUTTNB in October hosted a conference on dual studies.