EEC panel focusses on education to meet labour shortage

BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN) – The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) policy committee has agreed to focus on educational measures to address the problem of labour shortage in the region, allocating BHT725 million to train and improve the quality of teachers, lecturers and students in the economic corridor.

“Research has shown that in the next 10 years, the targetted S-Curve industries in the EEC will require an additional one million workers,” Secretary-General of the EEC Office Kanit Sangsubhan told the media at Government House on Friday morning.

Of the one million workers required, a labour shortage in the digital industry is most severe, needing up to 280,000 additional workers over the next decade.

According to Kanit, the Board of Investment has stressed the importance of training employees in the digital industry, since many companies planning to relocate to the EEC have expressed the need to bring in foreign workers for departments such as software engineering due to the lack of local talent.

“Labour shortage has always been a key challenge for the EEC as well as for the wider Thailand 4.0 policy, and we have been trying to address this issue since day one,” he said.

“The Education Ministry will focus on various plans to improve education, such as the introduction of the KOSEN curriculum in Thailand,” he said.

KOSEN is a Japanese five-year engineering course that trains students from the age of 15. It is designed to develop engineers to meet the demands of industry. The Education Ministry has meanwhile allocated BHT725 million for the EEC region, covering 16 projects with the aim of producing 26,043 workers by 2020.

The Business Technology Education Council curriculum from Pearson Education Ltd will also be implemented in four universities from this year to produce 1,000 “master trainers” who can teach students in the future.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry also proposed environmental plans for the EEC at the Friday meeting, Kanit said.

The funds earmarked for environment from 2019 to 2024 stands at BHT13.572 billion, with BHT4.274 billion coming from public-private partnerships, covering 86 projects in total.

Of the environment-focussed projects, 37 will be aimed at improving the management of natural resources, while the rest will focus on improving the region’s environment, targeting cities and urban areas, and boosting community awareness on environmental responsibility.

Of the 86 projects, 14 will be flagship projects that will be split into two groups.

The first group will address existing environmental issues in the EEC, while the second will improve the environmental principles of the EEC so it can meet international standards, Kanit added.

As for EEC’s city planning, Kanit said a first “final draft” should be ready by the end of this month. He also said that key agricultural areas in the EEC region will not be used for industry, adding that the areas allocated to the EEC still had enough spatial capacity.