The automotive sector remains the most popular field of study at vocational schools, but the automobile industry remains short of workers as most vacancies are in welding and automation, says the Office of the Vocational Education Commission (Ovec).
Surat Chanyeam, director of Ovec's Bureau of Cooperation, said the top five fields of study chosen by vocational students are automotive, electrical and electronics, automation, welding and construction.
Automotive students consist of almost 20% of the industrial field. The industrial field represents up to 60% of vocational students.
Meanwhile, accounting is the most popular field for commercial studies.
"Kids like cars because they see it everyday on the streets. But what the automobile industry really needs are welders and automation workers," said Mr Surat, adding that some students do not know this prior to choosing the field of study, so they choose auto mechanics instead and end up working in a garage.
The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) and Ovec yesterday held a meeting for the business sector to talk with vocational schools to participate in the country's new "dual system", where admitted students will undertake on-the-job training at companies for two years.
Students will receive a salary of 9,000 baht a month.
Around 50 companies and 80 public vocational schools attended the event.
The move is in line with the government's plans to increase the proportion of vocational students in the overall student population to 60% from 40%.
"We want students to earn incomes while studying and also be able to get a job right after graduation," said Mr Surat.
The automotive industry currently has 600,000 workers, of whom 55% finished elementary school and 35% finished vocational school, while the rest have a bachelor's degree.
"There will definitely be problems in the future if we want to reach a production target of 3.5 million cars. What we could do is increase the labour force by 100,000 workers instead of 400,000 and create more labour with high skills," said FTI deputy secretary general Thavorn Chalassathien.
Mr Thavorn said he aims for 2,000 students to participate in the "dual system" next year, and 20,000 students by 2014.
Thailand has 416 public vocational institutes and another 400 private ones.
According to the Education Ministry, there are currently 400,000 vocational or technical students nationwide.
Mr Surat said the figure is falling by 5% each year as students choose to pursue a bachelor's degree instead.
About the author
- Writer: Nanchanok Wongsamuth
Position: News Reporter