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Thailand – Positive unemployment figures clouding talent shortage concerns

29 November 2013

Unemployment in Southeast Asia currently sits at 4.4% with Thailand reporting one of the lowest in the region at 0.8% as of August, according to Adecco, reports nationmultimedia.com. This compares positively with a global average unemployment rate of 6%; however there are concerns that the positive unemployment figure is obscuring a growing talent shortage.

Ian Grundy, Head of Marketing and Communications of Adecco Asia, said: "This all sounds like good news for Asia and Thailand, but there is a real problem of talent shortage in various industries." 

The "job gap" in Asia is essentially the problem of under-skilled workers and overqualified individuals who cannot find a job because their skills do not match the criteria for applicants. 

"Most students leave school without the proper skills and talents that are currently needed by industries and offices," Mr Grundy added.

According to Adecco's statistics, 59% of companies in Thailand cannot find suitable candidates to fill openings because of their lack of technical expertise and unmatched skills or education.

Tidarat Kanchnawat, Adecco’s Director for Thailand and Vietnam, said that in Thailand, employers prefer high-skilled, qualified and experienced candidates, while new graduates apply only for positions in which they are interested. "Construction, infrastructure, and manufacturing are among the industries witnessing a severe shortage of labour.”

The main reason for the shortage of non-skilled labour is the government's policy of paying a minimum monthly salary of THB 15,000 (USD 466) to officials with a bachelor's degree. The private sector has to increase the salaries of its employees, which increases their cost of production and leads them to outsourcing for labour. 

Mr Kanchnawat added: "Leading industries responsible for economic growth in Thailand are experiencing a shortage of labour and it is affecting the growth of GDP in this country.”

The automobile industry, one of the fastest-growing industries in Thailand, is facing a shortage of skilled workers, while some labour-intensive industries are considering moving their production base elsewhere to get lower-cost workers. 

The top five positions in demand are engineers, salesmen, accountants, administrators, and IT experts. The automobile, electronics, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FCMG), IT, and construction industries are the most sought out.

Next year, Thailand's employment market is expected to see another skills shortage, especially for highly skilled or specialised staff from the operating to the executive level, who are in high demand from many organisations. 

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