Japan offers loans for high-tech HR
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) has offered 2.7 billion baht in soft loans to the Thai government to fund human resource development projects for industries handling high technology and innovation.
Nathporn Chatusripitak, an adviser to PM's Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool, said the loan scheme is part of the bilateral human resource development plan in manufacturing and services.
He cited a recent Jica survey, which found that Japanese companies operating in Thailand desperately need more human resources in engineering and technicians for electrical engineering, electronics and mechatronics.
According to Jica's survey, 52% of existing manufacturing technicians lack quality, while 71% of Thai engineers lack design knowledge. Thailand is also short of senior engineers.
Under the plan, Jica will team up with Thai educational institutes to develop special courses for manufacturing and innovation.
Jica, a plan partner, is also providing technical expertise, such as screening eligible loans and grant recipients, on top of human resource assistance.
Mr Nathporn said Jica's lending facility is part of a 3.5-billion-baht budget recently approved by the government to develop human resources in emerging high-tech industries.
The funding was requested by the Education Ministry to improve worker competitiveness, which includes creating 4.7 million vocational graduates by 2036, up from 1.6 million in 2017.
Some 800 million baht for the fiscal 2019 budget is for domestic institutes. The remaining 2.7 billion baht will be provided by Jica in the form of soft loans with an annual interest rate of 0.3% for institutes and entrepreneurs that plan on implementing human resource upgrades.
Part of the 2.7-billion-baht sum is to be allocated to scholarships for 3,000 Thai students and 500 teachers from abroad.