Firms ignore new graduates to save money

B15,000 starting salary blamed for joblessness

Many entrepreneurs have refused to employ bachelor's degree graduates to avoid paying a starting salary of 15,000 baht, a seminar on youth employment was told yesterday.

Firms ignore new graduates to save money

Worachon Dulwit, secretary-general of the International Student Centre of Thailand, said many employers were reluctant to take on new graduates with a bachelor's degree because they did not want to pay the 15,000 baht starting salary promised by the Pheu Thai-led government during its election campaign last year.

Instead, employers have opted to hire diploma holders to cut costs, Mr Worachon said.

The seminar was jointly organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Chulalongkorn University's faculty of economics.

Mr Worachon said many university graduates also study in fields such as social sciences that do not serve the needs of the labour market.

These graduates have a hard time finding jobs or end up being underemployed. Some resort to doing part-time jobs such as distributing leaflets, which is a waste of talent and a loss to the economy, he said.

Secretary-general of the Employers Confederation of Thailand Siriwan Romchatthong said graduates in certain fields such as engineering, accountancy or medical sciences were certain to be employed in accordance with their fields of studies.

For these professional graduates, employers are willing to pay the 15,000 baht starting salary.

But when it comes to graduates from other fields, employers prefer to hire those with educational qualifications lower than a bachelor's degree, Ms Siriwan said.

She said many employers are now trying to circumvent the government's 300 baht daily minimum wage, which takes effect on Sunday, by outsourcing jobs or hiring workers in the non-formal sector.

Matthieu Cognac, a youth employment specialist with the ILO's Asia and Pacific office, called on Asia-Pacific countries to promote youth employment as unemployment rates in the region were high.

It is necessary for each country to work out strategies to provide young people with various practical skills to enter the job market and ensure they receive decent wages and enjoy physical well-being, Mr Cognac said.

John Ritchotte, labour relations specialist with the ILO's Southeast Asia office, lambasted the government's 300 baht minimum wage policy, saying it was misguided and it would not do anything to raise the living standards of the public and workers.

The policy was only aimed at seeking political gain, he said. The government should let labour organisations and employers hold direct talks on wage adjustments to find a better solution, Mr Ritchotte said.

Meanwhile, Labour Minister Padermchai Sasomsap said yesterday the ministry would set up a complaints centre on its ground floor to receive information on any problems arising from the minimum wage hike so that the ministry would be able to find ways to sort them out.

Arthit Issamo, chief of the Labour Protection and Welfare Department, said labour inspectors would be sent out to various areas next month to enforce compliance with the new wage hike policy.

Employers who fail to comply will be issued with a warning and they will have to rectify the situation within 30 days.

After that, if they still do not comply, they will face a fine of up to 100,000 baht and/or a jail term of up to six months, Mr Arthit said.

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Writer: Penchan Charoensuthipan
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