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Demand for skilled workers 'likely to rise'

Demand for highly skilled workers is likely to increase in the next five years, putting pressure on the job market unless workers are able to adapt, a seminar was told yesterday.

Kraiyos Phattarawat, an expert on the economics of education, said advanced technology is driving the change.

As machine automation replaces workers in the industrial sector, the premium for workers at the top end of the spectrum would increase, he predicted.

"Simply put, highly skilled workers are needed in the labour market of the future," Mr Kraiyos said.

He was speaking at a seminar entitled, "the 4th Industrial Revolution and Labour Market Trends" held in cooperation with the Department of Employment and the Quality Learning Foundation.

The industrial and agricultural sectors as well as the service industry tend to depend heavily on machines, he added.

Workers who acquire creative, critical, problem-solving and decision-making skills and can handle complicated tasks will be needed, Mr Kraiyos said.

Demand for workers who are service-minded and have high emotional intelligence will also increase, he said, adding workers with a high emotional quotient (EQ) are better able to work in teams, adjust to change and be flexible.

"Workers should learn to improve and adapt themselves to new working environments to survive in the workplace of the future," Mr Kraiyos said.

He also called on the Ministry of Labour to provide training programmes that help upgrade workers' skills to meet the new challenges.

He urged state agencies responsible for producing the workforce, including the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labour, to work together closely to produce a labour force which has the requisite skills needed in the market.

Speaking at the seminar, labour permanent secretary ML Puntarik Samiti said Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has placed a strong emphasis on improving labour skills.

The government is worried that universities are churning out graduates which are incompatible with the job market. He has called for increased emphasis on vocational trades.

ML Puntarik said the ministry has worked with state agencies and the industrial sector to conduct training programmes which improve workers' skills and increase productivity.

Jinangkul Rojjananun, from the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, said Thailand needs to increase its labour productivity to boost economic growth.

The level of the country's labour productivity is lower than that of some neighbouring countries, she added.