Govt planning vocational training boost
EEC investors want higher standards
The Education Ministry is planning a massive overhaul of vocational and technical courses to improve the quality of graduates and encourage more students to train for specific careers.
Speaking at the "CP All Education 2020" forum yesterday, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan said that over the next year his ministry will focus on improving the number and quality of vocational and technical students as foreign investors who want to invest in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) have voiced concerns about the adequacy of the Thai workforce and the employability of new graduates.
"I've talked to many ambassadors from many countries over the past four months and asked them whether companies in their countries are interested in investing in the EEC," he said.
"The answers I got were that they won't come unless we can give them a clear picture of how are we going to produce skilled workers and control the quality. We need to give them confidence."
Mr Nataphol said the Office of Vocational Education Commission (Ovec) under the ministry will identify the skills required by foreign businesses and work with them to create a curriculum that matches their demands, both in terms of skills and numbers.
Mr Nataphol said more vocational courses related to the S-curve industrial sectors and advanced technologies such as automation and robotics, which promise high pay, will be offered to students. Moreover, vocational graduates must be able to use more than one language.
Ovec will also establish a centre where students can be trained to global standards in specific fields, he said.
"If the standard of vocational education is improved, I believed more students will choose to study in these fields," Mr Nataphol said.
According to a survey carried out by the EEC Office, the demand for labourers across the EEC will exceed 475,000 people over the next five years. Sixty percent of these positions can be filled by low-skilled but qualified vocational workers, while the remaining 40% will require high-skilled personnel.
At the forum, Mr Nataphol also promised to boost the English proficiency of Thai teachers and students nationwide.
He said that a bilingual curriculum -- in Thai and English -- would be in place from kindergarten up at more than 2,000 district schools starting in the 2020 academic year.
The aim is to develop children's language skills so the country can be more competitive in international fields, he said.
He said initially 2,000 district schools would have to provide bilingual lessons in the first semester of 2020.
"We have already prepared the budget to support the programme through to 2021," he said.
Mr Nataphol said English training programmes will be provided for teachers as well.
"Our target is that Thai teachers must be able to use conversational English within three years, and five years for students," he said.