Educating a new breed of skilled personnel
Projects being launched this year will cater to the demands of ‘S-Curve industries’
Two new educational projects are being kicked off this year at a combined budgeted cost of Bt14 billion to feed the demand for skilled workers for the 10 “new engines of growth” or “S-curve industries” as Thailand aspires for an economic transformation.
The projects are designed to graduate a “new breed” of nearly 120,000 skilled workers, including 52,899 educational certificate holders, 6,249 “Por Wor Sor” high vocational certificate holders, and 56,478 bachelor degree holders
The ministry said it would need a total of Bt14.138 billion to cover nine years of project implementation, broken down between Bt12.528 billion to fund actions and Bt1.610 billion to procure equipment and teaching materials..
The Cabinet has approved an initial Bt1.396 billion for this fiscal year, of which the Eastern Economic Corridor Labour Demand for New Growth Engines (2017-2021) project will get Bt119 million and the “Production of Graduates for Thailand’s New Growth Engines” (2018-2026) will get Bt1.277 billion, according to the Education Ministry.
Education Minister Udom Kachintorn said the Cabinet-approved projects were in line with plans for educational reform, the 20-year national strategy, and the “Thailand 4.0” policy, as well as meeting economic goals of curbing the shortage of skilled labour. He said the projects would also address industry’s call for graduates with abilities to match the market demand.
“We were told by industry people that past graduates have had to undergo additional training for 1-2 years before they could start working,” Udom said.
The first project, targeting vocational students, will shift vocational education’s learning methods and curriculum and increase participation from the private sector. Thus at least 50 per cent of study programme time would take place in a real work environment under a teacher or expert supervision. The project, offering a Bt35,000-per-head subsidy, has selected 27 colleges (22 vocational colleges plus five “smart farming” colleges) to join it in producing 8,500 skilled workers in five years for five existing industrial sectors. The sectors are next-generation automotive, smart electronics, high-income tourism and medical tourism, efficient agriculture and biotechnology, and food innovation.
The second project, targeting both advanced vocational students and higher education students, will produce skilled workers in the “new S-curve” industrial sectors – automation and robotics, aerospace, bio-energy and bio-chemicals, digital, and medical and healthcare. It has recruited 20 participating universities covering 235 study programmes.
Udom said the 119 non-degree programmes will have a study time of from six months to one year and offer a Bt60,000 per head per year subsidy. It is expected to produce 51,995 skilled graduates in three years. The 116 degree programmes, whose study time is five years and offer a Bt120,000-Bt150,000 per-head per year subsidy, will produce 56,078 graduates.
Udom said the projects has garnered attention from various companies that are signing up for the EEC.
Secretary-general of the EEC committee, Khanit Saengsuphan, said that last year, companies in the EEC needed 12,213 skilled workers for 224 projects. They included 4,614 workers in 32 projects for next-generation automotive, 3,043 workers in 27 projects for smart electronics and 1,479 workers in 63 projects for bio-energy and bio-chemicals. The EEC focus was now on skill development for the current 200,000 to 300,000 workers while promoting Thai vocational education to produce workers with practical skills.
According to Nipon Jongpitaksila, head of the Rail System Technology Department at Rangsit University’s College of Engineering, his college has also collaborated with Japan’s Nihon University and JR East General Education Centre to broaden students’ skills in the field through hands-on and problem-based learning approaches. Nipon said those with education in rail system engineering and rail system-related business management are in high demand in Asean countries with at least 10,000 positions available per year – at least 2,000 positions of which are in Thailand.
The dean Watcharavee Chandraprakaikul of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s Faculty of Engineering agreed that there was high demand for rail system experts, and said her institute had joined with China’s Luizhou College and Thailand’s SRT Electrified Train Co to develop a study programme. That programme would cater to the country’s current and future demand for such skilled manpower, as Thailand is building more than 400 rail stations and rail networks covering 30,000 kilometres in 76 provinces.
Premium courses in five
According to Udom, the 19 vocational and technical colleges participating in the projects starting this year would deliver premium “Por Wor Sor” study programmes in five fields in collaboration with expert parties, including educational institutes in China, the Civil Aviation Training Centre (CATC) and the private sector. Premium programme graduates would get two certificates or diplomas – one from Thailand and the other from the collaborating foreign institute.
1. In the field of rail transit systems, a three-year programme in collaboration with China-based institutes will be available at Khon Kaen’s Banphai Industrial and Community Education College, Surat Thani Technical College, Maha Sarakham’s Wapi Pathum Technical College and Chon Buri Technical College.
2. In the field of mechatronics, a two-and-a-half-year programme in collaboration with China’s Tianjin Bohai Vocational Technical College will be available at Ayutthaya Technical College and Bangkok’s Min Buri Technical College.
3. In the field of aircraft mechanics, a two-year programme based on the International Civil Aviation Organisation standard will be available at Phuket’s Thalang Technical College, Chon Buri’s Sattahip Technical College, Bangkok’s Don Meuang Technical College, Samut Prakan Technical College, Ubon Ratchathani Technical College and Khon Kaen Technical College. The programme was developed in collaboration with CATC and private sectors.
4. In the field of industrial robotics, a two-year programme with collaboration with German institutes is available at four provincial technical colleges in Samut Songkhram, Samut Sakhon Saraburi and Suphan Buri.
5. In the field of logistics, a two-and-a-half-year programme in collaboration with China’s Chongqing City Management College will be available at Udon Thani Vocational College.
As well, KOSEN colleges of technology in Japan will collaborate with Nakhon Ratchasima’s Suranaree Technical College to teach Mechatronics and Robotics, and with Chon Buri’s Science Based Technology Vocational College to teach Industrial Robotics. Both are special five-year “Por Wor Sor” programmes recruiting Mathayom 3 graduates. Mathayom 3 graduates usually study the “Por Wor Chor” programme for three years first, before they can continue to the two-year “Por Wor Sor” programmes.