The government is reinventing its human capital development policy to prepare the workforce for the future work environment. To address the rising challenges brought by the promotion of 10 targeted S-curve industries based on the new economic model of Thailand 4.0, disruptive technologies, the flow of foreign direct investment, as well as the ageing population, new approaches are required to ensure that the workforce can continuously improve their skills throughout their lives.
In June 2020, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan announced a new national educational strategy called the Thailand Education Eco-System (TE2S) as a key mechanism in building strong human capital. The initiative consists of 3 main components: the Human Capital Excellence Centre (HCEC), the Digital Education Excellence Platform (DEEP), and the Excellence Individual Development Plan (EIDP).
This is an investment in twenty-first century learning that will create opportunities and ecosystems where people of all ages can thrive and become part of a productive and agile workforce for the future.
At the end of August 2020, the Ministry of Education introduced the DEEP at Wat Rajabopit School in Bangkok, as a national classroom to promote lifelong learning. The DEEP enables students, teachers, school administrators, and practitioners to have access to reskilling or upskilling at all stages of life.
source: facebook NatapholBKK
Mr Nataphol said DEEP will allow the private sector to become content creators on the platform, which will generate a wide range of learning material. In the initial stage, additional resources from public and private efforts for the DEEP will be aimed solely at building English language skills and digital literacy. In the future, the platform is expected to create a culture of self-learning through which students can acquire knowledge, analyse, and share ideas with their teachers.
The Ministry of Education launched the HCEC model in September 2020, at Satri Witthaya 2 School in Lat Phrao, Bangkok. In the fiscal year 2021, the Ministry plans to establish the HCEC in 185 schools and another 100 centres in vocational colleges to develop teachers' skills in the fields that will meet the market demand. The HCEC has been designed as a Train the Trainer platform to accelerate improvements in teaching standards nationwide.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Vocational Education Commission (OVEC) has partnered with the private sector to establish excellence centres to support the demand for human resources, especially in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). Initially, the OVEC will set up six excellence centres in technical colleges located in the EEC to develop human resources in the fields of next-generation automotive, digital technology, automation, robotics, rail system, logistics, aviation, and tourism.
In addition, 12 vocational colleges in the EEC have collaborated with the EEC Policy Committee in redesigning the programme to produce high vocational certificate students in line with EEC Model Type A (human resources with a high vocational certificate and higher education degree). They are required to produce EEC model students representing at least 30% of the total number of students graduating with a high vocational certificate in 2023.
The EEC Policy Committee is applying a Demand-Driven concept to propel human resource production towards Vocational Education 4.0. A survey revealed that more than 475,000 new workers will be needed during the five-year period of 2019-2023 to support 10 targeted S-curve industries and three key basic infrastructure projects (rail, maritime and logistics).
Of these positions, 53.2% will be vocational education-level workers and 46.8% will be higher education-level workers, while the sectors with the greatest job demands will be digital technology, logistics, and smart electronics. For years, Thailand has been trying to strengthen the vocational education programmes and foster a new perception that students can have a good job in the digital economy without paying for university education.
The Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation meanwhile is moving forward with a human resource and knowledge development platform that will respond to an innovation-driven economy. The Ministry has created a programme to develop a high-skilled workforce, encompassing graduates from vocational colleges and universities, to support the industries located in the EEC, especially first and new S-curve industries.
Lifelong learning and a future skills-set programme are also aimed at improving knowledge, skills and competencies of the current and future workforces to meet the demand. Moreover, the Ministry has also introduced Artificial Intelligence (AI) in all programmes to develop human capital and awareness of AI at all levels from children to educators with the ultimate objective of developing a workforce with AI and machine learning skills.
The Ministry also recently launched the Future Skill x New Career Thailand project to increase the opportunities for undergraduates to develop careers through reskilling, upskilling and new skilling. In the first phase, the Ministry has collaborated with 19 universities to design courses in eight skills much in demand in today's workforce; namely, smart innovative entrepreneur, smart farming, caregiver, smart tourism, digital data, creative content, food for the future, and robotics and AI. New graduates can search for jobs from the more than 10,000 positions now available on the platform.
Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI), meanwhile, is offering additional tax incentives called ‘Thailand Plus’ to support STEM human resource development. Employers will be eligible for a special deduction of training expenses related to advanced technology endorsed by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation to expedite reskilling and upskilling of the workforce. Expenses incurred hiring new highly skilled human resources in the fields of science and technology will also be entitled to a special deduction.
The BOI will also upgrade its incentives scheme to encourage the industry to be actively engaged in STEM training.