January 19, 2021

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Thailand working to upskill vocational students in robotics

Thailand will equip vocational students with skills to work alongside and maintain factory robots to cater to the anticipated demand for 200,000 robotics-trained workers by 2024. The Office of the Vocational Education Commission (OVEC) will oversee the scheme, which is part of the revamped Thailand vocation education system project launched in October.

The scheme comes at a crucial time when factories are moving from China to Thailand, and the urgent need to fill the gap for robotics-trained workers grows as many of these factories automate with robotics.

The OVEC Deputy Secretary-General stated, during the recently concluded “5 New S-curve” webinar, that education policymakers have already forged partnerships with private firms to offer upskilling courses in robotics. He added that the scheme will begin with mechatronics and robotic courses of the Human Capital Excellent Center (HCEC), which are taught to a total of 5,200 students annually at 161 private and state schools across the country.

The HCEC is also launching special courses to retrain teachers and help them keep up with changing robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

From January to November, the automation and robotics industry players in Thailand have invested a total of THB651 million – up from THB29 million last year.

Previously, Thailand used 3,000-4,000 units of industrial robotics, but this has risen to 10,000-20,000 units to replace the human workforce, particularly migrant workers, the Executive Adviser of the Eastern Economic Corridor Human Development Center (EEC HDC) said. In the EEC, demand for robotic-skilled workforce has jumped from around 30,000 to 50,000 after the pandemic.

Furthermore, by early 2021, the EEC area will be ready for the 5G network that would move the country towards Industry 4.0. Smart manufacturing will take shape with the integration of automation, Internet of Things (IoT), big data and cloud in the production process.

OpenGov Asia recently reported that, according to a London-based data and analytics firm, 5G subscriptions will account for more than 55% of total mobile subscriptions by 2025 in Thailand, as 5G demand for high-speed data and low latency network gathers steam in the country.

The demand for digital solutions in sectors such as healthcare, education, retail, and tourism will drive the development of 5G in Thailand, combined with the new normal of the post-pandemic world, the report noted.

The Senior Analyst of Telecoms Market Data & Intelligence at another data analytics and consulting company stated that mobile operators are working to strengthen 5G network coverage and encouraging customers to adopt 5G services. They are targeting consumers with innovative 5G mobile plans and simultaneously trying to demonstrate 5G use cases for enterprises, he said.

Notably, AIS, the leading CSP in Thailand is offering virtual reality and cloud applications to drive 5G adoption in the consumer segment while commercial segment 5G plans include ‘AIS 5G Play AR’ for virtual reality content and ‘AIS Cloud Game’.

In addition, AIS signed an MoU with Bangkadi Industrial Park in October 2020 to develop 5G solutions to modernize factories at the park.

Additionally, The Prime Minister of Thailand is the chairman of 26 members ‘National 5G Committee’, which aims to ensure necessary support from the government in 5G development. The committee also consists of ministers from the education, tourism, and finance departments.

It was noted that 5G adoption in Thailand will be driven by growing popularity for 5G mobile applications, the decline in 5G handset prices, the need for enterprise digital transformation, and the Thailand government’s smart city initiatives.