Thailand, Ministry of Labour, SIngapore, Ministry of Education, Suchart Chomklin, Chan Chun Sing, upskilling, labour

Thailand's Labour Minister has been discussing the opportunity for more Thai workers to work in Singapore, given that at present, nearly 20,000 Thai workers are working in the city-state.

Thailand's Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin as well Minister for Education Treenuch Thienthong have been raising the issues of skill building for the national workforce in several forums, including in conversations with Singapore as well as in the upcoming APEC Second Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2).

In a recent visit to Singapore, Thailand's Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin met with Singapore’s Minister of Education, Chan Chun Sing to look into workforce development initiatives for Thai workers to support employers’ needs in Singapore.

Joining the Thai contingent were Thailand's Permanent Secretary of Labour Boonchob Suttamanaswong, Ministry of Labour’s Spokesperson (on politics) Theanrat Nawamawat, the Department of Employment’s Director-General Pairoj Chotiksetian, the Department of Skills Development’s Director-General Prateep Songlamyong, and the Social Security Office’s Secretary-General, Boonsong Thapchaiyut.

The leaders (pictured below) discussed government issues to exchange knowledge, and ways to link the development of necessary skills for Thai workers. They also discussed the systematic management of labour information covering all dimensions. The meeting took place at the Ministry of Education in Singapore. 

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According to Labour Minister Suchart, "Singapore is a country that places importance on human resource development for all ages, especially the working-age, as the workforce is an important part of the country’s development."

Singapore's SkillsFuture system was also particularly noted, whereby in Thailand's context, a model like this can increase the potential of advancing skilled labour among Thai workers in alignment with the government policy. This would link well with Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha and Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan's focus on promoting jobs, developing the workforce, and ultimately benefitting national development and competitiveness.

“The Ministry of Labour thanks the Education Minister of Singapore for exchanging information on Singapore’s skill development system, which is necessary for Thai workers to align with the needs of Singaporean employers. It is a good sign for cooperation to deliver sufficiently skilled workers who have the performance that meets the market demand and to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries,” concluded Labour Minister Suchart.

Similarly, the Thai officials also visited the Labour Department of the Royal Thai Embassy in Singapore, to meet with the Thai Ambassador to Singapore, Chutintorn Kongsak. The discussions took place at the Royal Thai Embassy in Singapore (pictured below, the Labour Minister and delegation meeting with the Thai labour volunteers)

On the agenda were conversations around further opportunities for Thai workers to work in Singapore. 

At present, nearly 20,000 Thai workers are working in Singapore, most of whom work as general workers, pipefitters, production workers, welders, construction workers, general production workers, general workers, steel structure assemblers, painters, and foremen.

The highest demand by Singapore employers is in the following three fields:

  • Welders in the shipyard sector,
  • Manufacturers of electronic components in the industrial sector, and
  • Skilled construction workers.

Noting these are good opportunities for Thai workers to help expand the labour market to work in Singapore, the Labour Ministry added: "Singapore has construction structures for government housing, the improvement of residential areas, public health projects, and infrastructure work, such as electric trains and commercial building construction. An increased number of hotels and attractions are undergoing renovations in preparation for tourism revitalisation after the COVID-19 pandemic begins to ease."

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Alongside this conversation, Labour Minister Suchart thanked the Thai Ambassador to Singapore for taking good care of Thai workers. With his delegation, the Labour Minister also met with the Thai labour volunteers in Singapore, taking this opportunity to share thoughts on working policies and guidelines to the labour officials.

Citing the country's leadership in caring for and encouraging, all staff of the Labour Department, the Ministry's statement added: "The volunteers play an important part in coordinating and helping Thai workers abroad to receive information, including the protection of benefits and safety at work. Therefore, it is a good opportunity to meet everyone and show appreciation for helping the Ministry of Labour without compensation, which is truly volunteer work."

APEC Second Senior Officials' Meeting

In Thailand's further efforts to promote upskilling, the APEC Second Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) and related meetings has kicked off on 9 May 2022 at the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok. The meeting includes discussions on human resources development, pertinent to driving APEC towards post-pandemic digital economy that supports Thailand’s host year objective of sustainable and inclusive growth.

From 9 to 12 May 2022, APEC delegates and experts working in education, capacity building and labour market policy will participate in a series of meetings organised by the APEC Human Resources Development Working Group (HRDWG), under the theme 'Shaping Smart Citizens with Digitalisation and Eco-Friendly Awareness', which was proposed by Thailand under APEC 2022’s theme of 'Open. Connect. Balance.'

Key discussion points include:

  1. Restyling capacity building to ensure skill sets that meet market demand in the post-pandemic environment;
  2. Future proofing and promoting resilience in labour systems that can best adapt to new ways to working and challenges posed by digital transformation and green transitions; and
  3. Policy on quality Education for sustainable development, including digitalisation and green skills.

APEC conducts its work on human resources through three key networks under the HRDWG, namely the Capacity Building, the Education, and the Labour and Social Protection Networks.

The 47th APEC HRDWG meeting this year will address economic and social challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as how the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation and created new job opportunities, but it has also negatively impacted the employment prospects of those with low digital skills.

In addition, the meetings will also look at the increasing problems of gender equity, the impact of automation on employment, increasing green transition, as well as social protection policies to address new social risks in the changing world of work.

From Thailand's side, Treenuch Thienthong, Thailand’s Minister of Education, will share her vision on the impact of COVID-19 and how to increase resilience of the education system at the Education Network Meeting on 11 May 2022. Thai representatives in the HRDWG will emphasise the importance of raising eco-friendly awareness among youth and collaborative direction of education, employment and decent work in the VUCA world, as well as to share Thailand’s experience of human resource capacity development in the electrical vehicle industry.

Lead image / Thailand Ministry of Labour

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