As the digital drive gains steam during the pandemic, Thailand must capitalise by turning into a global tech hub, says Digital Council of Thailand (DCT) president Suphachai Chearavanont.
Mr Suphachai, chief executive of Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, said the world is likely to recover fast after the outbreak subsides, due to globalisation and the push for technological and digital development.
A new economy will emerge as people's behaviour changes.
"Thailand needs to prepare for transformation to the new economy," said Mr Suphachai, who is also board chairman of telecom operator True Corporation.
"We must dare to change with the target of bringing the country to serve as the new technology hub of the world."
The DCT aims to push towards a new economy through five approaches.
First, new indicators for the country's development must be sought. For example, the country's digital infrastructure must not be gauged by the ratio of computers or mobile phones to the population.
"There should be indicators of people's capability in technological and digital access, such as English and Chinese proficiency, as new knowledge mostly comes from countries that use these languages," he said.
Second, cooperation between state, private, academic and civic sectors must be created with a clear goal of pushing the country out of the middle-income trap.
In the past, they worked separately with different objectives, Mr Suphachai said.
Third, efforts must be made to create digital manpower through upskilling or reskilling of new graduates, currently numbering 500,000.
"They must have new skills consistent with global demand," he said.
Fourth, digitalisation must be underscored. Industries and startups must be alerted and prepared for fast change, particularly the adoption of digital technology within organisations.
Fifth, efforts must be made to turn Thailand into a trade and investment hub, drawing talent to the country from around the world.
Mr Suphachai said a strategy must be laid out to enable Thailand to serve as the regional hub for investment.
To reach the goal, Thailand must have an ecosystem conducive to trade and investment, supported by technology and digital advancement.
And while talent from outside the country is needed, Thai universities should be encouraged to produce more technologically proficient graduates, he said.