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Thai Government Pushes STEM Educational Programmes to Help Meet Thailand 4.0 Vision

Thai Government STEM Educational Programmes for Thailand 40

Thailand’s government has merged four separate government departments into a new Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovations, which aims to work closely with the private sector in Thailand and overseas to increase research and human resource development.

With aspirations to become a fully developed nation by 2035, Thailand has realised it must make huge strides in innovation to become a hub for artificial intelligence, robotics, biosciences, aerospace and other new pillars of what is frequently termed the world’s fourth industrial revolution.

Government to boost R&D activities, co-operative education programmes and high-skilled workforce recruitment

The Thai government has launched the economic vision known as Thailand 4.0 and a series of strategies to support the Eastern Economic Corridor or EEC, a digital hub of Southeast Asia covering three provinces outside Bangkok. To achieve the vision, Thailand will need to fill 475,000 new jobs by 2023 in the EEC alone. This will require a bachelor’s degree or higher and the rest increasingly sophisticated vocational skills.

The Thai Board of Investment (BOI) has struck an agreement with Thailand’s Research Universities’ Network,  eight of the country’s leading research schools, to improve R&D information sharing. The agreement is aimed at stimulating collaboration in private sector demand-driven R&D activities, co-operative education programmes and high-skilled workforce recruitment.

“This agreement reinforces the BOI’s facilitation role in fostering cooperation between business and academics to increase research and development in Thailand and to strengthen our manufacturers’ competitiveness in key technologies.” said Ms Duangjai Asawachintachit, Secretary General of the BOI.

Local and foreign educational institutions collaborate on STEM courses

Collaboration between local and foreign educational institutions and the private sector is also another essential driver to support Human Resource Development.

King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, (KMITL), based on Bangkok’s eastern outskirts near Suvarnabhumi International Airport, teamed up with Pittsburg’s Carnegie Mellon University. And, in 2019, CMKL University, a joint venture between KMITL and CMU, launched its first masters and doctoral programmes in computer and electrical engineering.

Bangkok’s Thammasat University and Amata University in the EEC have both partnered with National Taiwan University while Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology, which is funded by Thailand’s biggest company, Fortune 500-ranked PTT, is in collaboration with leading Japanese, Korean and European educational institutions with the aim of becoming a world-class university and centre of cutting-edge innovation.

Bangkok’s Burapha University has combined with Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric Factory Automation to develop and accelerate education standards in automation technology using AI and industrial robots to operate intelligent factory systems.

Thailand’s education reforms stress the importance and status of vocational studies. One of the best examples is a collaboration by KMITL with Japan’s National Institute of Technology to open a tertiary engineering school offering world-class vocational training provided by the Japanese KOSEN technical college system.

KOSEN-KMITL, as it is known, teaches a five-year course from age 15 that produces engineers qualified in mechatronics, a combination of electrical and mechanical engineering that is required in both robotics and AI.

Thailand’s educators and businesses are also tapping European vocational expertise. UK-based educational company Pearson is working with the EEC to develop career-focused programs that offer BTEC diplomas awarded by Britain’s Business and Technology Education Council.

Board of Investment to incentivise companies and foreign investors in human resource development in STEM

Thailand’s Board of Investment is offering additional tax incentives to companies engaged in Human Resource Development. Companies investing in the establishment of education and vocational training institutes specializing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics will be granted five years of corporate income tax exemption.

The BOI also offers so-called SMART visas that enable foreign investors and their families, as well as key talent in business, science and education, to enjoy privileges that include residing in the country for up to four years without needing to obtain a work permit.

With such a strong commitment to human resource development, Thailand’s target of boosting innovation-focused foreign investment and achieving developed nation status by 2035 is looking increasingly attainable.

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