Academics yesterday voiced concern about the impact of Asean's economic integration on employment in Thailand, as businesses
become freer to move to other Southeast Asian nations with better investment environments.
The concern was expressed during a seminar on the economy and Thai labour at the Labour Ministry organised by Thammasat University's Human Resource Institute, the Foundation for International Human Resource Development and the Nikhom Chantharawithoon Foundation.
Labour Minister Phadermchai Sasomsap said his was among nine ministries tasked with preparing the country for the launch of the Asean Economic Community in 2015.
Phadermchai said the AEC would allow engineers, nurses, architects, surveyors, doctors, dentists and accountants to move freely among the 10 Asean nations to work.
As a result, Thailand may face shortages in these seven professions if Thais are lured by higher salaries in other countries. He said the Labour Ministry was working with the Education Ministry to try to increase the number of graduates in these fields.
Anusorn Thamjai, dean of Rangsit University's faculty of economics, said the AEC would affect employment in the country because of the liberalisation of the goods, services, investment and capital sectors.
Anusorn said the opening of the four sectors would cause investors to buy raw materials from other Asean countries or move their production bases.
The government and businesses should make preparations so that the liberalisation would not affect the country's economy, he said.
He advised Thai investors to adopt advanced technologies and skilled labour instead of using unskilled workers.
The increase in the daily minimum wage to Bt300 a day would help prevent a labour shortage in the country after the AEC's implementation, Anusorn said.
Liberalisation of the labour market would prompt Thai workers to seek foreign employment if they could get higher salaries in other countries, he said.
He also voiced concern that unskilled workers in the agricultural and industrial sectors would come into the country in high numbers, putting a strain on the country's welfare system.
But Weerachai Kuprasert, an official of the Foundation for International Human Resources Development, said the AEC represented an opportunity for Thai businesses, as it would expand the markets for Thai goods and services.
He said Thailand's tourism business would also be helped by integration under the AEC.
CR : nationmultimedia