Human development must come first on road towards ‘Thailand 4.0’


HUMAN development in organisations and the country as a whole should be the priority in helping transform the Kingdom into a sustainable economy, and eventually turning it into a valuedbased economy – or “Thailand 4.0” experts said at yesterday’s “Thailand’s Economic Outlook 2017: Towards Sustainability” seminar.

Speaking on the topic “Transforming into a Sustainable Economy”, Somchai Jitsuchon, research director at the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), said that before moving to Thailand 4.0, “people must be 4.0 first”.

Examining the structure of the Thai population, people aged from 35 to 60 account for half of the labour force, yet a great many of them are not well educated, he said.

This is a challenge for the country in moving towards Thailand 4.0, as people in this category rarely know about disruptive technology, besides the government has no clear policy for getting them to participate in the Thailand 4.0 process, he added.

Policymakers should have a strategy for this segment of the population, and the TDRI recommends that the government pursue an integrated agricultural approach, which is part of the sufficiency-economy philosophy of the late monarch, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, to educate these people to make them self-sufficient, Somchai told the seminar.

If they can be self-reliant, they will not be a burden on younger people, who will form the key element of the workforce in the Thailand 4.0 era, he explained.

Another strategy that is essential for the younger generation, who represent 20-30 per cent of the labour force, is on-the-job training, the research director said.

Most current training is not adequate for dealing with modern businesses, he pointed out. He added that properly focused programmes were seen only in large companies, while small and medium-sized business pay less attention to the training of their employees because of a fear over the potential turnover of staff after they complete the courses.

Sanchai Apisaksirikul, managing director and country head of finance and corporate services at United Overseas Bank (Thai), told the seminar that people were crucial to sustainable business. UOB therefore attaches importance to developing its employees in terms of both knowledge and morale, as it believes that these factors enable them to better offer the right products and services to customers.

Banking is a sector in which complaints about the sales force show up in key performance indicators, which is why UOB (Thai) has made employee morale another KPI, he explained. “People development has no need to wait for educational or infrastructure development, and we believe all people and all organisations can start from themselves – and that Thailand can become a sustainable economy,” he said.

Yodphot Wongrukmit, senior executive vice president of Bangchak Petroleum, said his company had created core values to run a sustainable business, and that Bangchak today was not only a refinery operator, but had also diversified into other businesses to deal with future change. “If Bangchak ran only an oil-refinery business, we would not survive,” he said.

First published: The Nation on Saturday, October 22, 2016