Thailand is not the only country which is struggling with unemployment. Like many countries across the world, there appears to be two main threats for job seekers: the surge of new technology and automation replacing jobs formally done by man and the fact that austerity continues to force business into cutting down on recruitment.
How the job-seeking market appears for those who are leaving school or after graduation is always a good barometer of any countries employment issues. In Thailand, certainly in the short-term, statistics tend to give a positive feedback. However, with major changes to social and cultural models instigated by the government towards industry welcoming advanced technology, and the facilitation of a more service based industry, the employment sector may become more unstable in the future if not handled with sensitivity.
Youth Unemployment in Thailand
According to statistics, youth unemployment, at 3.4%, is the lowest in the region. The young people of Thailand now have more options for a fulfilling career. As reported in our article earlier this month, the Thai government’s target of creating a society based on equality and opportunity and the streamlining of industry continues to thrive with the unveiling of of phase 4.0
The aim of the government project is to move more towards being a service based economy. This will naturally bring many changes over time. As the name itself suggests (Thailand 4), there have been three phases to the project prior to this. Each one looking at various factors which hopefully will enable Thailand to become a centre of innovation, technological advance and business and economic growth.
Negative Aspects to Industrial and Commercial Changes
However, as much as the new advances in technology and globalisation will hopefully lead to a much more prosperous economy, where there are even more opportunities for all ages of job seekers, there is also the concern, as has been seen in nearly all western economies, that new technologies will also in fact replace work.
It is also a fact that for a long time now Thailand has been a product producing country where unskilled workers have found employment on a factory line. Clearly, this has not moved the majority of the population out of the poverty zone but at least there was work to be done and money to be made.
In the exciting new vision for Thailand, there will no doubt be a period where the old product lines begin to shut down. Jobs will be lost as workers are forced into finding new employment. And that perhaps highlights another fear. Apart from the loss of work itself, unskilled workers will presumably find it difficult to move sideways into the same type of work. As time marches on, children leaving school will not have such a broad spectrum of unskilled work open to them.
The Geneva Symposium
This week saw the a highly innovative and thought-provoking symposium which looked at how technological advances may well be threatening jobs and employment for the future. The conference entitled “The future of the work we want” and based in Geneva, focused on employment and some of the more frightening aspects of a world which has an online infrastructure facilitated by artificial intelligence and robots.
Matthew Cognac, A youth employment specialist at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said “While there will be new opportunities in growing sectors and in new industries, there will also be more temporary and less full-time work. Some jobs will see their shares decrease, while others will ultimately disappear.”
It is also apparent that the changes in industry will need the educational system in Thailand to consider making changes to accommodate the need for teaching new technological knowledge and skills. The youth in the next generation must be equipped to take on the demands of the coming industrial infrastructure. To aid continuity in current job roles there will be a need for on-going vocational training.
Changes Must Include Education and Training
Matthew Cognac went on to comment “For those less skilled, options for steady work in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors could become more limited, forcing more people to take up work in the informal sector. Certain jobs will require stronger support and attention, starting with technical and manual trades taught in vocational training centres as well as agriculture-based activities including cooperative management, agribusiness and agritourism, which are still not widely taught.
Education systems will need to be more attentive to these changes in the labour market. They will need to become more flexible, more open to change, more open to creativity and innovation, and also more robust in English language teaching, which is key to competitiveness in the region.”
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