Industry warned on labour

Industry warned on labour

Technology urged to deal with shortage

A bus carries foreign workers in Bangkok. Shortage of workers, especially in labour-intensive industries, means that Thailand may have to import more than 1 million migrant workers over the next few years. PORNPROM SATRABHAYA
A bus carries foreign workers in Bangkok. Shortage of workers, especially in labour-intensive industries, means that Thailand may have to import more than 1 million migrant workers over the next few years. PORNPROM SATRABHAYA

The labour shortage in the industrial sector is expected to be more severe over the next few years as many businesses are still labour-intensive, while the Thai education system has failed to produce skilled workers to meet rising demand, say the Industry Ministry and business leaders.

Udom Wongviwatchai, director of the Office of Industrial Economics, forecast Thailand would need to import more than 1 million migrant workers over the next few years to meet rising demand, especially in labour-intensive industries that utilise low-skill workers.

He said the automotive and auto parts industries would need an additional 430,000 migrant workers, the electronics industry 470,000 workers, the food and beverage sector 1.3 million workers, and the textile segment 885,000 labourers.

The Industry Ministry suggested several industrial sectors switch to use more technology to reduce manpower demand. Migrant workers are expected to return to their home countries in the near future because neighbouring economies are projected to grow quickly after implementation of the Asean Economic Community.

"Several industries have been warned of labour shortages in the very near future. They should have a long-term plan to switch and use more technology that helps cut the reliance on human workers.

Vallop Vitanakorn, vice-chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said several sectors of Thai industry had been facing a labour shortage for a while and the problem was expected to get worse as the country's education system fails to provide skilled workers to match demand.

Thailand could face a severe migrant labour shortage in three to five years.

Apart from cheap migrant workers with low skills, the FTI also expected Thailand to have a shortage of up to 500,000 skilled workers in several sectors over the next few years.

"Those sectors likely to face a shortage are automotive and auto parts, electronics, textiles and clothing," said Mr Vallop.

The FTI said Thailand was already short of some 125,000 migrant workers nationwide.

He said industries feared the situation would get worse when the Board of Investment implements new regulations to support businesses that adopt more technology and innovation, meaning industries would need more skilled workers to work with advanced technology.

"By that time, Thailand will lack not only low-skill workers, but also skilled workers," said Mr Vallop.


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