Aec: Opportunity or Threat to the Workforce of Thailand

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The ASEAN agreement to implement the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 is a rational approach in order to be the largest economic development in the developing world (Asian Development Bank (ADB) 2010; Austria 2012). However, it seems likely to have both beneficial and negative aspects. Although a GDP per capita of Thailand is in the fourth rank among ASEAN countries, competitiveness of its workforce may be insufficient to compete with others (Deutsche Bank 2013; Chongphaisal 2011).

The free flow of skilled labor and investment in the AEC policy can bring opportunities and threats to the Thai workforce. The former can lead to a chance for Thai workers to work in other ASEAN countries. The latter can bring about
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According to the National Economic and Social Development Board of Thailand (NESDB) (2012), GBP 6.2 billion is the amount of foreign direct investment in Thailand in 2010 and it tends to increase every year. These can increase job placements and the Thai employment rate (KPMG 2012; Thaiautoparts 2012). Thaiautoparts (2012) predicts that in 2017, more than 300,000 workers would be needed for the Thai manufacturing sector. 90 % of staff would come from vocational schools.

It has been argued that free flow of skilled labor can be a two-edged sword owing to an entrance of foreign labor (KPMG 2012; Thaiautoparts 2012). It is possible for companies to employ incoming labor who have higher ability and English proficiency. As a result, job placements and the Thai employment rate may not increase as expected.

Threats for the Thai workforce

English Proficiency

In 2015, low English skill will become a huge obstacle for Thai employees to communicate with foreigners and other ASEAN members (CITS 2012; KPMG 2012). EF English Proficiency Index 2011 in ASIA (cited in Bangkok Bank 2012) indicates that Thai English proficiency in ASIA ranks 42 and its level is defined as very low. Moreover, Director of CITS, Pisanwanich (cited in The Nation 2013) says that the Thai workforce will be in a difficult situation. An example of this is that foreign workers have the same performance as Thai workers but higher level of English skills such as nurses. CITS (2012)
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