Brighter prospects for e-commerce
Thanks to the growing popularity of online shopping in Thailand, e-commerce is expected to have the brightest growth prospects this year, while book rental, handicraft and conventional furniture are forecast to face the bleakest outlook.
Thanavath Phonvichai, vice-president for research at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC), said Thais buy more products online because of the ease, convenience and cheaper prices.
The government has actively promoted alliances between Thai businesses and global e-commerce providers such as Alibaba, Amazon, Lazada, Shopee and Coupang to drive community and farm products both to domestic and international markets.
But Mr Thanavath warned that there are still threats to the e-commerce business, notably from the government's plan to collect income tax from e-commerce businesses, fiercer competition, cheating and low-quality products.
The cabinet last year approved an amended Revenue Code related to value-added tax (VAT) collection from e-business operators with a physical presence outside Thailand.
Under the bill, digital platform operators providing services (including online games, sticker downloads, online advertisements, digital content and online hotel bookings) that generate annual sales of more than 1.8 million baht from Thais are required to register for VAT payment and are liable for the sales tax.
Mr Thanavath said medical services and beauty care had been identified as the top sector with the brightest prospects, followed by cosmetics and skin cream because Thai people are attuned to their health and beauty.
Meanwhile, the UTCC projected book rental; handicraft and conventional wooden furniture; DVD and CD player manufacturing and distribution; internet cafes; and printing and journals to face gloomy prospects this year.
"Businesses categorised as sunset careers are expected to face continuous and greater risks in the future, especially from the entry of high-end technology, automation and robots," Mr Thanavath said. "Existing workers in the semi-skilled segment, in particular, are expected to be replaced by robots and automation, and they are highly likely in the future to face layoffs."
He said it was fortunate that unskilled labour, workers in the service sector and high-skilled workers are unlikely to face such risks, due to high demand.
Mr Thanavath said the key factor influencing career prospects is the economy, which is expected to continue experiencing growth of 4-4.2%.