The Digital Industry Sentiment Index rose above the threshold of 50 in the first quarter for the first time in 12 months, reaching a three-year high, according to a survey by the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa).
The index surged to 54.0, up from 49.0 in the fourth quarter of 2022, driven by entrepreneurs' confidence as Thailand's economy recovers thanks to a tourism rebound and higher foreign investment.
The survey was conducted among five sectors, comprising hardware and smart devices, software, digital services, digital content, and telecommunications.
The survey found three sectors had index values exceeding 50, comprising digital content at 59.3, telecommunications at 58.6, and hardware and smart devices at 57.1. The rest had indices below 50, with software at 49.8 and digital services at 48.9.
Depa president and chief executive Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin said Thailand's economy was rebounding thanks to the tourism revival and foreign investment, boosting the private sector's purchasing power as a result.
Increasing demand for digital transformation in various industries also gave the index a lift, he said.
In addition, foreign investment in digital infrastructure and the expansion of global technology companies' production capabilities in Thailand sent a positive signal that production costs for Thai digital entrepreneurs would decrease, allowing them to ramp up production capacity and profit, said Mr Nuttapon.
The survey is conducted quarterly by sampling around 500 enterprises in the digital industry.
He said the survey showed that as businesses steadily transform themselves, the demand for digital professionals consistently rises, leading to a labour shortage and high personnel costs.
Many entrepreneurs want the government to provide a specific solution, making financial resources more accessible and attracting more digital talent from around the world to meet rising digital workforce demands, said Mr Nuttapon.
A major concern is the Thai educational sector might not be able to catch up to the growing demand for digital specialists, he said.
"In the survey, Thai digital entrepreneurs had a strong preference for the government creating a conducive environment for digital industry development by facilitating access to financial resources, whether from local or foreign sources," said Mr Nuttapon.
"They also want an opportunity to participate in large government projects, while the government should work to attract digital talent from around the globe to fulfil rising demand, as well as promote foreign trade in the industry."
Earlier this week Depa, TBN Corporation and Kasetsart University partnered to help develop a skilled digital workforce to bridge the demand gap for personnel in the country.
The partners plan to use a low-code development platform to train workers. The platform provides a development environment for creating application software through a graphic user interface.
Previously Depa collaborated with various state agencies and private enterprises to offer many digital workforce training programmes that could produce 30,000 trainees annually. However, demand for a skilled digital workforce now totals 100,000 employees per year.