The current situation of Thailand’s labor market is at a concerning turn, as per a recent report released by an authoritative agency. With the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic gradually lifting, one might’ve been hopeful for a promising employment landscape. However, the reality paints a starkly different picture with new university graduates facing the possibility of accepting jobs below their qualifications or even starting with lesser incomes.
Despite the tangible progress in the pandemic-induced employment crisis, climbing out of the hole seems to be taking a slower pace in Thailand. The broad issue seems to revolve around a critical mismatch of qualifications, especially concerning university graduates, within the country’s labor market.
Some glaring statistics come from Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI) figures showing a distinctly decreased demand for university graduates in 2022 compared to four years ago in 2018. The BOI statements reveal a bizarre trend: businesses hired nearly 95,566 employees in 2018, while the hiring figure relatively soared to 168,992 in 2022. Yet, in an ironic twist, the proportion of jobs secured by university graduates saw a drastic drop from accounting for 30.1% of total employment to a mere 17.2% last year.
Moreover, the job market for those graduating from vocational schools took a smaller hit, with job figures easing from 23.7% in 2018 to 22.5% in 2022. Ironically, secondary school graduates witnessed their employment gone up from 41.1% in 2018 to 57.3% in 2022.
In a similar vein, companies benefiting from the BOI privileges in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) showed a preference for hiring individuals with lower levels of education. An astonishing 419 projects in the EEC found 52,322 individuals employed in 2022. A break-down of their educational qualifications presents a compelling picture:
- Secondary school graduates: 59.1%
- Vocational school graduates: 25.2%
- University graduates: 14.7%
This study also sheds light on the existence of a huge vacuum for job opportunities suited for individuals with secondary education, particularly in industries like automotive and automotive parts, electrical appliances, and electronics.
The educational division among workers in these industries are detailed below:
- Secondary school : Auto (63.9%), Electric appliances and Electronics (63.2%)
- Vocational school: Auto (22.5%), Electrical appliances and Electronics (23.6%)
- University: Auto (13.5%), Electrical appliances and Electronics (12.9%)
Interestingly, sectors like digital, agriculture, and food-processing have employed a higher number of university graduates. But there’s a stark imbalance in the number of enrolled students in different academic categories. For instance, in 2021, around 1.902 million students were registered in various universities compared to a significantly lesser 374,962 in vocational schools. Unfortunately, this can possibly result in a higher unemployment rate among university graduates, as per the report.