2. Improving access and quality of vocational education and training in Thailand

Many observers of the Thai VET sector argue for an expansion of its size. As discussed in Chapter 1, the share of the workforce with vocational certificates and vocational diplomas remains relatively low. According to the data available, currently about 35% of Thai students study a vocational programmes at the upper secondary level, which is lower than the OECD average of 37% and remains below the target set by the Thai government to increase the proportion of vocational students relative to general education ones to a ratio of 60:40 (Ministry of Education, 2013[1]). Although there are no “one-size-fits all” approach regarding what should be the adequate size and shape of a country’s VET system, reports of skills shortages,1 as discussed in Chapter 3, and Thailand’s targets for VET enrolment, imply that the system needs to enrol more students.

Data on labour demand from the National Statics Office’s Establishment survey show that employers are mostly looking for workers with low to medium-level qualifications, i.e. upper secondary level or below (including vocational certificates) (see Figure 2.1). This level represents 51% of demand, while the demand for bachelor’s level or higher, and higher vocational qualifications only account for 15% and 9%, respectively. By contrast, data on the estimated supply of graduates shows that 63% of graduates have a bachelor’s degree or higher, 15% have higher vocational qualifications, and 22% have low to medium-level qualifications. While there is clearly an oversupply of tertiary-educated workers, data by field of study show that the supply of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduates falls short of the demand for these graduates, signalling that field of study choice is not well-aligned with labour market needs (Chantapong and Lertpienthum, 2018[2]). This also suggests that the mix of provision and the content of VET programmes may not have adjusted fast enough to labour market evolutions. Despite there being shortages of technical skills, both students and parents showed a preference for a university rather than vocational education. The demand, from both students and their parents, and employers, for academic credentials may be excessive, especially when these do not offer better labour market prospects than VET ones. One of the reasons may be that students may seek higher social status through university qualifications (Chalapati and Chalapati, 2020[3]). There are some reports also of employers preferring academic degrees from higher education institutions. The topic of mismatch and shortages is further discussed in Chapter 3.

To have more students go into upper secondary VET programmes, and onto technical jobs in the labour market, VET has to become more attractive for students in initial education, while also cater to the needs of adults who might have already gone through some education and training, and have gained experience in the workplace. The promotion of VET through the idea that vocation creates the nation (Thailand Development Research Institute, 2019[4]) and the aspiration to increase the proportion of students entering VET in itself can help to increase the attractiveness of VET – by opening new programmes and institutions. But in a system where students can choose to pursue general education options, increasing the proportion of students who enter VET will also depend on improving the status of VET.

Increasing access to VET can be achieved through multiple channels. First, for VET programmes to be more attractive, the system needs to ensure that vocational students can move onto further learning opportunities, both vocational and general education ones, so that VET is not perceived as a dead-end option. Second, institutional fragmentation has to be reduced, to increase co-ordination and coherence and to make the system more transparent and easier to navigate. Third, issues regarding the quality of learning and teaching, and the relevance of the programmes need to be addressed, to improve the image of, and consequently participation in, VET. Fourth, efforts are needed to increase access for certain underrepresented groups (including adults), and making sure that opportunities are of the same quality in all regions.

A lack of interest in vocational education among young Thai people with high academic potential could, at least in part, be due to the fact that VET programmes are seen as a dead-end, not allowing access to further education opportunities (Thailand Development Research Institute, 2019[4]). However, in principle, pathways are open, both toward higher-level vocational programmes and general education programmes. Upper secondary vocational graduates can apply to academic university programmes like their general education peers, with the exception of programmes in some health faculties (e.g. dentistry, pharmaceutical and veterinary science).

There is also the possibility for students to progress to postsecondary VET programmes. At that level, students can pursue vocational diplomas, after having completing either general or vocational upper secondary education. There are also bachelor’s degree in technology or operation, in which students with a vocational certificate can enrol and which is shortened to two years (instead of four) for those who have a vocational diploma. Postsecondary VET programmes seem to have become more popular with respect to their academic equivalents (as discussed in Chapter 1), which is a strength. Assessed in terms of number of students, Thailand appears to have a fairly well-developed postsecondary VET sector, unlike many other middle income countries. In many African countries, for example, the focus in recent decades has been more on access and participation in primary and secondary education, focusing on academic programmes, rather than on the development of vocational tracks, especially at the postsecondary level.

The Thai National Qualification Framework (NQF) helps to provide structure in the education and training landscape and the various pathways. It encompasses VET and postsecondary (including higher) education under the different ministries and agencies and locates programmes in a common sequence of levels. Recently, the NQF committee has developed prototypes to link occupational standards required by employers to VET curriculum and teacher training, learning material and equipment (Office of the Education Council, 2021[5]). Although no panacea, in principle, a NQF can make vocational education and training systems more transparent, so that the value of different qualifications can be more clearly recognised by students, employers and other stakeholders. If frameworks are underpinned by a strong methodology for allocating qualifications to levels, supported by key stakeholders, and backed by complementary measures to unify the vocational and professional system and improve transitions, they can facilitate lifelong learning, and improve access to higher levels of education (OECD, 2010[6]). There is an effort to develop linkages and comparisons with the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF). As such, every agency and institution providing VET programmes is mandated to use the National Vocational Qualifications Framework and seek approval from OVEC (Goncalves, 2019[7]).

Despite formal pathways existing in theory, there are concerns that they are hard to navigate in practice. A transition from general secondary to a technical education programme is uncommon, and so is progression from VET into general or academic programmes. Data on the previous education level of current students show that 83% of students from upper secondary VET who continue to postsecondary education are in vocational diploma programmes and only 16% in tertiary education programmes (see Panel A of Figure 2.2). Looking at the same data from a different angle, only 25% of current vocational diploma students come from general upper secondary education and 73% from vocational certificate programmes (see Panel B of Figure 2.2). For current students in tertiary education programmes, 82% come from general upper secondary education, and only 6% and 3% from vocational diploma and certificate programmes, respectively. More and better data are needed to analyse the extent to which VET graduates successfully continue in further education. As discussed in Chapter 3, tracer studies can be a tool to analyse education and labour market outcomes of VET graduates.

Few graduates from the different VET programmes proceed to further programmes at a higher level, and many of those who do continue in education do so at the same level, and do not receive exemptions for the overlapping coursework that they have already done (Chalapati and Chalapati, 2020[3]), leading to duplication and an important opportunity cost. This is also due to that the fact that higher education institutions are selective and prefer to take students with a general education background. As a result, entrants are overwhelmingly from general education: only few students in tertiary education come from a VET background (9%, see Figure 2.2). This contrasts with experience in some other countries such as Switzerland and the Netherlands, where half or more of the students in universities of applied science come from VET backgrounds (OECD, 2014[9]).

This means that upper secondary VET programmes are still too often seen, and turn out to be, routes to the labour market, but not to further learning opportunities, which hinders their attractiveness. In Thailand as elsewhere, VET graduates need to have a full opportunity to progress into further and higher education. But at the same time it means that the VET track will need to be demanding academically, so as to prepare students for higher education (OECD, 2014[9]), or that bridging programmes need to be put in place (see Box 2.1). In Latvia for example, a one-year bridging programme enrolled around 15% of upper secondary VET students (OECD, 2016[10]).The positive experience in some fields in Norway is also relevant, noting that this also involves some adjustment of first year university programmes to ensure that VET graduates receive extra support to develop their theoretical knowledge.

Many countries struggle with the challenge of creating pathways between vocational programmes and higher level ones. Barriers often include fragmented education systems with limited transparency, limited development of general skills in mid-level VET to be successful in higher education, and a lack of flexibility in higher education programmes (UNESCO, 2018[14]).

Transitions between vocational programmes and higher-level ones are essential to increase the status of VET, and also to meet the needs of the labour market. In the past, VET, in Thailand as in other countries, was primarily designed to train young people for an occupation that they would pursue throughout their working life. But this simple pattern now rarely holds. Rapid change in the labour market, driven by technological progress and other structural changes, is changing the skillsets required in many occupations, and eliminating some types of jobs, while also creating other, new job roles. Higher level skills are increasingly in demand. This means that the typical worker with a VET qualification is likely to need to upskill and/or reskill during their working lives (OECD, 2014[9]).

A UNESCO report, looking at both OECD and non-member countries, encourages the development of pathways from initial VET programmes to further and higher education (UNESCO, 2018[14]). It argues that the development of such pathways serves multiple policy objectives, including increasing the attractiveness of initial VET by meeting student aspirations, and removing any perception of VET tracks as dead-ends; helping to meet growing economic demands for higher level skills and qualifications; supporting lifelong learning; removing wasteful barriers, such as requirements to repeat course material; and improving equity by promoting the access of more disadvantaged groups to higher level programmes (see Box 2.2. for more details). All of these points are relevant to Thailand.

Articulation frameworks can help strengthen pathways. Such arrangements facilitate transitions between individual institutions and programmes. They may include common core curricula – for example the mathematics component of a programme for electricians-, guidance for students who envisage transferring their credits, incentives for institutions to establish articulation agreements, and data collection to monitor credit transfers. They can be codified in legislation or negotiated through agreements between institutions. In France, for example, it is possible for students from instituts universitaires de technologie (IUT, university institutes of technology) after the first two years of study to be admitted by the grandes écoles, whose masters-level graduates may, in turn, pursue doctoral programmes in universities (OECD, 2014[9]).

The Thai system suffers from fragmentation, reflecting a multiplicity of stakeholders, including different ministries and agencies, competing programmes and training providers. As a consequence, there is a very large variety of institutions offering both upper secondary and postsecondary VET programmes, under different governance arrangements. According to OVEC, in 2019 there were around 900 VET institutions in Thailand, 53% of them private, covering more than 350 subject areas. There are 14 different types of institutions: Technical colleges; Vocational colleges; Agricultural and technology colleges; Commercial colleges; Industrial and ship building technology colleges; Fishery colleges; Administration and tourism colleges; Polytechnic colleges; Automotive industry colleges; Golden Jubilee Royal goldsmith colleges; and Arts and crafts colleges. The size of a college varies considerably, depending on the location and programmes offered (see below) (UNESCO-UNEVOC, 2015[15]).

Diverse institutional contexts may support diversity and innovation. But multiple organisations and institutional structures involved also creates risks: it can also create confusion for students in the face of over-lapping VET programmes (OECD, 2010[6]). Each segment of the VET system addresses an essential need for vocational education and training, but the lack of a coherent and co-ordinated set of policies guiding the system limits its capacity to achieve its full potential, and fit with both the students’ aspirations and the labour market needs. Also, employers can find engagement in multiple contexts too burdensome. Fragmentation of the VET offer can hamper the cost-efficient use of public resources, as it leads to duplication of tasks, such as curriculum design and quality assurance. It also makes it more difficult to have an exhaustive view of their training offer and its funding (OECD, 2014[9]).

A simpler system would be easier to co-ordinate, and more efficient financially. In a simpler system, it is also easier for companies to be involved in the governance of the VET system and to contribute to the definition of the training offer, which will increase employer’s feeling of ownership, which can in turn raise their willingness to contribute to its funding. A reduction of the fragmentation would allow a better-planned approach to VET supply, and a more precise view of the funding going into it (Goncalves, 2019[7]).

More effective measures of co-ordination and a consolidation of the different programmes and institutions are needed in Thailand, as developed in Chapter 3. Box 2.3 describes the recent efforts in Malaysia to strengthen co-ordination in the VET system.

Despite recent efforts towards modernisation of the VET system, quality concerns remain, regarding out-of-date curricula, a lack of qualified staff and obsolete equipment. For instance, VET teachers in Thailand have been found to lack industry experience and pedagogical skills (UNESCO-UNEVOC, 2013[18]). Quality issues regarding work-based learning opportunities have also been reported (Thailand Development Research Institute, 2019[4]). There are also concerns regarding the labour market relevance of the technical skills taught in these programmes, with some reports showing that VET courses do not comply with the needs of the industrial sector, in particular for technicians and operators (Ministry of Labour, 2020[19]). The latter issue is discussed in detail in Chapter 3.

Resolving quality challenges must be the policy priority, alongside addressing subsequent pathways, and for that reason a high quality of VET programmes is a precondition for the development of pathways. But very often it will make sense to address the quality of VET alongside efforts to improve subsequent pathways, since those pathways are a major element in making VET attractive to students (UNESCO, 2018[14]).

VET students do not only need to have technical skills, but also foundation skills, as these are the skills needed to adapt to changes in the labour market, and are skills sought by employers. When compared to OECD countries with available data (see Figure 2.3, Panel A), the scores of Thai 15-year-old VET students in PISA in maths is, on average, more than 100 points lower than the OECD average (one standard deviation in PISA). Thailand shows similar score in maths than Indonesia, but substantially lower ones when compared to other countries in the region, such as Malaysia (-45 pts), Korea (-82 pts) and Japan (-110 pts). Other upper-middle income countries such as Mexico (-45 pts), and Turkey (-30 pts) also show better performance than Thailand. However when taking into account students’ socioeconomic status, Thailand’s performance gaps with other countries in some cases shrink. Similar conclusions hold for performance in reading and science.

Interestingly, in Thailand, VET students have very similar performance levels to students in general programmes in the subjects of math and science. However, Thai students in VET programmes score on average almost 30 points less in the reading examination than students in general programmes (-0.3 standard deviations).

Given the importance of literacy and numeracy skills, they need to receive attention within vocational programmes, at both upper secondary and postsecondary levels. This may mean administering a test of numeracy and literacy on entry to vocational programmes to determine student needs, offering targeted help for those with the weakest basic skills. Strong literacy and numeracy will be particularly important for vocational graduates who wish to pursue further academic qualifications (OECD, 2014[9]).

Analysis of student numbers in public VET institutions shows that there are 13 institutions that have less than 250 students and 55 that have been 250 and 500 students (see Figure 2.4).The size of institutions differs by regions, as discussed later in this chapter. In the case of private institutions, data show that almost 60% of private providers have less than 500 students (Jantrakool, 2016[21]).

The small size of schools increases the cost of VET provision in some programmes, as there is limited scope for economies of scale. Smaller institutions are unlikely to be able to offer the same variety of VET programmes as large institutions, which increases the risk that students will follow a programme that is not adequately linked to their career interest. These institutions might not always have access to sufficient resources to deliver a quality education.

Sometimes, consolidation may increase efficiency – similar or higher quality services are offered at a lower price. The efficiency gains from economies of scale may be set against some clear losses, such as longer travel times for school students. As a first step towards consolidation, stronger co-operation between different types of VET institutions, and also between VET and general education ones may be encouraged (see Box 2.4 on consolidation of VET schools in different countries).

An interesting feature of the Thai VET system is the relatively important size of the private sector (as discussed in Chapter 1). These private institutions are mainly located in Bangkok (there are more than 100 private VET institutions in Bangkok compared with only 21 public VET colleges, see below). They offer a different provision than public VET institutions: public institutions offer mainly industry-oriented and agriculture programmes, while 70% of private ones offer business and commerce programmes (Goncalves, 2019[7]). The industry-oriented specialization programmes offered by public colleges in the Bangkok area are not in high labour market demand, and the fields covered by private colleges seem to be more popular to students. While such private institutions may be helpful in supporting access to VET and can help fill gaps in the public offer, there are some concerns regarding the quality of private providers, because of the small size of some of them, as mentioned before, but also failing quality assurance mechanisms. Over the 2011-2015 period, only 256 private institutions, out of more than 450, were certified by an external quality assurance mechanism (Jantrakool, 2016[21]).

But private providers, balanced by effective quality assurance, can play a useful role. Very often, private providers (both for and not-for-profit) occupy a particular niche in provision, particularly where no public funds flow to these private providers. Sometimes they fill a gap in public provision – for example, in the Netherlands, the public sector faces barriers in delivering part-time programmes to adults, and as a result these are mostly offered through private providers (OECD, 2014[9]). Clearly, quality assurance needs to be linked to the level of public funding. Where government money flows to private providers, there are, or should be, accountability arrangements to ensure that government money is supporting good quality provision. In England, the government inspection body, Ofsted, inspects provision funded by government regardless of whether it is delivered by a private or a public training provider or indeed an employer (OECD, 2018[24]). Thailand should make sure that proper mechanisms are in place to ensure that all private institution remain at an adequate quality level.

VET is at the centre of the strategic efforts to further develop and diversify the Thai economy in the coming years (Thailand Development Research Institute, 2019[4]). It is therefore essential to address the persisting concerns about its ability to provide VET graduates with the required knowledge and skills to successfully integrate them into the labour force (Burapharat and Chupradit, 2009[25]). In the absence of policies to ensure quality, VET programmes can exacerbate existing economic and social inequalities, channelling disadvantaged students into low quality programmes that do not lead to good jobs. In fact, low quality VET can be worse than no VET at all if it tracks students away from general education without equipping them with the skills necessary to succeed in the labour market. It is argued that when the quality of vocational programmes and student outcomes is improved, the image of vocational education will improve as well. When the negative perception of Thai society towards vocational education is changed, this may attract high-achievers, which would then further raise the quality and image of vocational education. This policy discourse on encouraging a positive attitude of Thai society towards vocational education is an important challenge for the Thai government in response to its skilled labour shortages (Chalapati and Chalapati, 2020[3]). Recently, the Ministry of Education has made significant efforts to develop policies for strengthening VET. A higher budget has been allocated for staff development and curriculum improvement, to better link training provision and labour market demands. The curricula have been updated with new occupational competencies (Goncalves, 2019[7]). Thailand is in the process of changing the way skills are assessed for VET graduates to make sure that that graduates are more “work-ready” (National Institute of Educational Testing Service, 2021[26]).Thailand should continue into that direction and make sure that the technical skills are aligned with what is needed in the labour market, which can be done through close collaboration with employers and through the promotion of work-based learning for all VET students (as discussed in Chapter 3), and making sure that VET students, especially those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, are given sufficient opportunities to remediate possible skill gaps and to continue studying further if they wish to.

Further investment in VET are needed to achieve higher quality. Today, the overall funding of VET is relatively low. Figure 2.5 shows that Thailand spends less on education relative to its GDP than the average OECD country. The difference is particularly large at the secondary education level. However, spending on education in Thailand is higher than in many of the countries in the region. Moreover, differences in funding between VET and general programmes are significant, with the budget allotted to OVEC to manage the VET programmes at the upper and postsecondary levels being very small compared with that for higher education, taking into account their respective numbers of students (Goncalves, 2019[7]). This can be problematic, especially as delivering VET is often more expensive compared to general education, especially when programmes require expensive, up-to-date equipment (OECD, 2010[6]). The private vocational education sector has been promoted in Thailand to increase the education and training capacity of the country (Chalapati and Chalapati, 2020[3]), and these institutions receive subsidies from the OVEC. Subsidies for VET private secondary institutions vary by area of study and profile of students. For example, VET institutions providing training to disadvantaged groups, such as students from disadvantaged backgrounds, or disabled students, are subsidised at a higher rate than others. Interestingly, Thailand has introduced performance-based approaches to funding, and provided incentives to training providers regarding the introduction of apprenticeship and entrepreneurship modules,2 and how well students integrate into the labour market, which allows to guide the provision while ensuring its quality (Goncalves, 2019[7]). Performance-based funding can help improve the quality of VET institutions, but it needs to be carefully designed (see Box 2.5). This type of funding arrangements can also be used to make sure that the provision meets the needs of the labour market.

Finally, measures to increase access to VET and improve its quality should be accompanied with actions to reduce dropout. According to figures published in Thailand’s National Scheme of Education, dropout rates from vocational studies in upper secondary programmes for the academic year 2015 were 17%3 (Office of Education Council, 2017[30]). According to the same report, dropout rates in post-secondary VET programmes during the same period were lower, but still substantial (11%). There are many possible drivers of dropout. For example, there is evidence of career guidance issues –with many students finding their studies not to be aligned with their personal interests-; financial problems, linked to the students’ families ability to afford tuition fees for vocational programmes; and other social issues, such as teenage pregnancy and social vulnerability (Center for Reproductive Rights, 2005[31]; Chandoevwit, 2006[32]). Efforts to increase access to and completion of VET should therefore go hand in hand with interventions in other related policy areas.

In Thailand, as in most countries, students in upper secondary VET programmes often come from less affluent backgrounds than those in general education. As Figure 2.6 shows, students in VET in the PISA dataset have a lower index of economic, social and cultural status. However, the gap is smaller in Thailand than in many other countries.

According to PISA data, Thailand does better than many countries in ensuring that students succeed regardless their socio-economic status. At age 15, socio-economic status explains 12% of the variance in reading performance in Thailand (OECD average: 12%). The average difference between advantaged and disadvantaged students in reading is 69 points, compared to an average of 89 in OECD countries. However, only 13% of disadvantaged students are academically resilient (OECD average: 11%) (OECD, 2020[33]). It is encouraging, as mentioned before, that in Thailand 15-year-old VET students have very similar performance levels to students in general programmes in the subjects of maths and science, despite having slightly less educated parents and showing a lower socio-economic status on average.

While upper secondary VET institutions are free of charge, postsecondary VET institutions can charge tuition fees. Tuition fees in private institutions are at least twice as high as in public VET institutions - although students in private institutions seem to come from less affluent backgrounds (Chalapati and Chalapati, 2020[3]).

To support students who might struggle with these tuition fees, since 2020, the Thai Ministry of Labour has a specific programmes to provide training courses to disadvantaged students – with around 400 students a year, but with plans to expand to 2 500 beneficiaries a year (Ministry of Labour, 2020[19]). The Equitable Education Fund also provides scholarships in VET, and the way in which these funds are targeted also provides an incentive for VET institutions to improve their quality (see Box 2.6). It is important to streamline such initiatives to all VET programmes, to make sure that students have access to adequate financial support when needed, including in postsecondary VET. Box 2.7 discusses an example of grant programmes for disadvantaged students in Peru.

In Thailand, like in most countries, women now have a higher education attainment on average than men (see Figure 2.7). While 19% of women aged 16 to 65 hold a tertiary education degree, this is the case for only 14% of men. However, they are less likely to have participated in VET programmes, and still today, as highlighted in Chapter 1, the share of girls enrolled in VET is relatively low. PISA data show that 15-year-olds girls in Thailand perform better than boys in reading, the main topic of PISA 2018, with a statistically significant difference of 39 points (OECD average: 30 points higher for girls). Contrary to what is seen in most OECD countries, girls perform better than boys in maths, with a statistically significant difference of 16 points (OECD average: 5 points higher for boys). Likewise, girls perform better than boys in science with a statistically significant difference of 20 points (OECD average: 2 points higher for girls) (OECD, 2020[33]). Similar patterns are found for students in general and vocational programmes.

Analysis of enrolment in VET by field of study shows that there are very important gender differences in study choice. As discussed in Chapter 1, female students are not only less likely to choose VET programmes, they also tend to choose some very specific fields-of-study, and these are different from the fields chosen by male students. The large majority of female VET students –at certificate and diploma level- are in business administration or commerce programmes, and only a small share are in fields such as industrial trades or industrial technology. On the contrary, industry-related programmes are the largest for male VET students.

Gendered choices between fields-of-study contribute to gender segmentation in the labour market, with female students and apprentices often being concentrated in fields which have lower completion rates and weaker opportunities for progression. Moreover, because of their field of study choice, women are more likely to end up in jobs that are characterised by lower salaries, worse working conditions, and fewer opportunities for career advancement. This type of horizontal segregation (between occupations) can be an important cause of inequalities between men and women. Also, women may be pushed into part-time friendly’ occupations, and take on the burden of unpaid care work at home – this maintains the traditional division of labour within the job market and the household. Research on gender segregation in education shows that segregation is especially pronounced in educational systems with a strong vocational education and training sector at the upper secondary level (Heiniger and Imdorf, 2018[36]).

Data from the Thai labour force survey show that the industries acoounting for the largest shares of total female employment are the argicultural, wholesale and retail, manufacturing, and hospitality sectors (employing three quarters of all female workers). Women are over-represented relative to men in certain low-wage industries, such as the hospitality sector (see Figure 2.8, accounting for 11% of total female employment in 2015). At the same time, more women than men work in the education, health and financial services sectors, which are relatively high-wage industries (accounting jointly for only 9% of total female employment). The data also show that on average women are likely to have lower wages than men, in particular in sectors such as education, real state, and financial services (see Figure 2.8). Perhaps reflecting wider factors in Thailand, the large differences in career and education choices between women and men give cause for concern.

Gender gaps in education and training are not determined by innate differences in ability but are the product of gender stereotypical role models that become internalised in the process of socialisation, in terms of perceptions of self-efficiency. Results from PISA discussed above show that girls outperform boys in all fields. Likewise, results of the International Computer and Information Literacy Study (ICILS), a computer-based assessment of eighth grade students’ ICT skills conducted in 21 countries, shows that girls scored significantly higher than boys in all countries except Thailand and Turkey; and in these two countries, there was no statistically significant difference between female and male students’ scores. However, on the ICILS assessment, girls had lower levels of self-efficacy even when they outperformed or performed similarly to boys on measures of digital skills. Analysis of PISA data also shows that gaps in self-efficacy start at home and are often accentuated by school system themselves, and the biases that teachers themselves have (Reisel, Hegna and Imdorf, 2015[38]; OECD, 2015[39]).

Gender stereotyping can deter both girls and boys from pursuing specific careers, especially so in traditional VET occupations, such as manufacturing (Makarova, Aeschlimann and Herzog, 2019[40]). Encouraging all students to pursue studies in the field that interests them and in which they can fully express their potential may result in better labour market and social outcomes. Greater occupation equality may help to eliminate gender stereotypes that have a negative impact on the status of women (OECD, 2015[39]).

In Thailand, there are some opportunities for career guidance and counselling in a formal sense – career education is provided throughout primary and secondary education, but with important variations, from six to 225 hours of career education (Office of the Education Council, 2017[41]). In addition, students have access to career guidance services at regional offices managed by DSD under the Ministry of Labour, where they receive information that is the same regardless of the region. Prior to the end of each semester, DSD regional offices normally set up mobile units to provide career guidance for students. However, there are reports from the Ministry about some areas having inedequate coverage. Overall, it is considered that there are too few opportunities for youngsters to become familiar with different jobs, and study programmes (Ministry of Labour, 2020[19]). It seems that students are largely on their own navigating a system which is complex, especially given the large numbers of private providers and types of institutions. In an environment in which the economic prospects and future professional development of particular educational programmes are not well known, students (and parents) will rely on other factors – convenience, familiarity, and of course gender stereotypes – to guide their decisions. These factors may not lead to desirable long-term outcomes. Private institutions in particular may excel in marketing and can be particularly effective regardless of the quality of the programmes they deliver or whether they align with the needs of the labour market.

Choosing a programme of study is one of the biggest decisions individuals makes in their lifetime. Public interventions in career guidance are often justified using arguments from social capital theory: the lack of both personal and professional network connections, and lack of exposure to different occupations, is thought to hinder the labour market progress of young people, in particular from disadvantaged backgrounds. Career guidance may help reduce inequalities in opportunities associated with a child’s background (related to socio-economic status and gender for example) and parental experiences and expectations. An important purpose of career guidance is to provide students with relevant information and experiences in order to broaden aspirations. Evidence shows that career guidance interventions for disadvantaged students, such as young people at risk of becoming not in education, employment, or training (NEET), work best when they are targeted, located in the community and highly individualised - see (Musset and Mytna Kurekova, 2018[42]) for a review of the evidence.

Stereotypes preventing girls to progress in the same fields as boys can be countered by improved information and career guidance interventions. Having “role models” sometimes is a good way to encourage students, especially girls, to pursue new areas that are traditionally not considered for females (Hughes et al., 2016[43]; Musset and Mytna Kurekova, 2018[42]). As such, engaging employers of different sizes and sectors, including successful young entrepreneurs, in career guidance programmes will be useful for students. Nonetheless, career guidance interventions have to be designed carefully to be effective, especially when they involve work placements, because if not well designed, they can exacerbate rather than challenge students’ gender stereotypical trajectories (Osgood, Francis and Archer, 2006[44]). A study by the U.K. Equal Opportunities Commission (2005[45]) recommends, amongst other things, that:

  • Students experience at least two different types of work placement with one in a non-traditional occupation.

  • Guidance and training is provided for schools and employers to tackle gender stereotyping in work experience placements.

Technological advances have opened up access to new sources of information about different education and training options. A robust data infrastructure that can reliably connect education and employment is an essential step toward connecting educational supply and labour market demand. Ideally, students can have access to information on: all available options and pathways specific to the individual's needs, including VET ones; the qualifications to which they lead, and the further qualifications to which these give access; the occupations to which these qualifications provide access, and the extent to which the qualifications are sufficient for entry; the salary/wage levels offered by these occupations; the projected demand for these occupations; and the labour market outcomes achieved by those successfully completing the programmes, including the nature of their jobs, their salary/wage levels, whether or not the jobs are in an occupational sector directly related to their VET programme, and the extent to which they are using the skills and competences acquired in the programme (see Chapter 3 on graduate tracer surveys). For example in Peru, the ministries of education and labour have set up a website (www.ponteencarrera.pe, Get into a career) to provide data on the cost and labour market returns of specific programmes of study at all of the country’s technical institutes and universities. In Norway, the public career guidance web portal (www.utdanning.no) includes an overview of the educational pathways and descriptions of more than 600 careers and professions. The portal also includes interviews with skilled workers, overview of places to work and information on average salaries.

Adults can take advantage of VET programmes to deepen their technical skills, make a sideways career move, or return to work after a period out of the labour market. Structural changes in the labour market mean that some workers need to upskill to remain abreast of changing requirements, while others have to reskill entirely (OECD, 2014[9]). This need for upskilling and re-skilling is reinforced by the COVID-19 crisis and the consequent shift in the economy (see Chapter 3 for a discussion on the impact of the crisis in Thailand). One of the fundamental issues of the Thai economy is the lack of well-trained workers to face the challenges of a more complex economy. While the proportion of workers achieving at least 12 years of formal education has increased tremendously in the latest years, still around 45% of working adults aged 16-64 have only achieved primary education or below (see Chapter 1). Opportunities for adults to invest in their skills are therefore crucial.

Although data on adult participation in VET in Thailand are scarce, it seems that participation is very low for adults in these programmes. For example, data on the age profile of students in VET programmes show that only 3% of vocational certificate students and 11% of vocational diploma students are older than 25 (see Figure 2.9, Panel A). Among adults who are currently studying for a formal qualification, tertiary-level programmes are most popular, followed by general upper secondary education (see Figure 2.9, Panel B). However, these data only capture participation in formal education programmes, and evidence from OECD data clearly shows that many more adults participate in non-formal training than in formal training. As discussed in Chapter 1, Thailand has a fairly large non-formal VET sector. Non-formal training often has the advantage of being shorter and more flexible than formal training, which is an important advantage for adults. However, the non-formal training market often lacks transparency with a lack of quality assurance. Moreover, as non-formal does not result in a qualification, it might be difficult for adults to show to employers that they have gained skills through non-formal training.

Data on training provision by firms in the formal economy suggest that workers in Thailand have comparatively limited access to training opportunities. According to the World Bank Enterprise Survey, which contains information from over a thousand registered firms with at least five employees, only 18% of employers provided organised training activities to their workers between 2015 and 2016 (see Figure 2.10). This share is much lower than the average in upper-middle income countries (36%) and East Asia and the Pacific (38%). Thailand introduced a levy scheme in 2002, which promotes training efforts by granting a 200% tax deduction to enterprises for investing in skills development. The funds collected by the levy scheme aim to improve the skills standard of Thailand’s existing labour force and is compulsory for companies with more than 100 employees. Enterprises that provide staff with occupational training (approved by the Ministry of Labour) are eligible for certain privileges and benefits. Training should be organised on a yearly basis and provided to at least 50% of the company employees. Evidence shows that the introduction of the levy scheme in Thailand has led to a sharp increase in the training provided by companies, reaching around four million workers who receive training every year (Goncalves, 2019[7]). But research suggests that little was done to involve firms in the development of the levy and the processes for approving training programmes and claiming the tax reduction are daunting (Ritchie, 2010[46]). Another shortcoming of the levy is that by definition informal workers are excluded. Usually, once in the informal economy, opportunities for learning and upgrading skills are scarce when compared to employees’ opportunities in formal firms, or for the self-employed working formally (Alonso Soto, 2020[47]).

Available information for OECD countries shows that, in most countries, adults face multiple barriers to access training. Adults might not participate in training for a variety of reasons, some related to a lack of motivation, others to practical barriers, such as financial and time constraints (OECD, 2019[50]). In Thailand too, according the Skills Development Survey data (2019) from the National Statistical Office of Thailand, about 92% of adults responded that they do not desire to participate in adult learning. This lack of interest is lower for younger adults aged 15 to 24 (88%). On the other hand, the share is higher among people with low levels of education (95%) than among those with at least a secondary education qualification (90%). Some of the reasons for not wanting to participate in training for Thai adults include lack of time (44%) and no interesting course being available (9%) (see Figure 2.11). Online training could help overcome some of these barriers, and recently the TPQI has made available a large number of e-learning course for anyone to access free of charge (TPQI, 2021[51]).

If the Thai education and training system is to seriously address the challenge of adults not having the right skills for their jobs and employers facing skills shortages, it has to offer meaningful routes to careers for those who have left school with poor skills and low levels of qualifications. The promotion of adult learning can assist Thailand into moving away from its reliance on labour-intensive industries and promoting skilled-intensive industries in areas such as computing, telecommunications, and electronics (Chalapati and Chalapati, 2020[3]).

More attention to the learning needs of adults is needed. In practice, many adults lack time for training because of work and/or family responsibilities, and those who are in informal employment cannot always count on their employer to provide or support training. Re-engaging them in education may require programmes that are flexible and adapted to the needs of adults (e.g. part-time programmes, distance learning). Modular approaches are especially helpful in providing adult learners with greater flexibility on their learning path. They allow adult learners to focus on developing the skills they currently lack, complete self-contained learning modules on these skills and combine these modules to eventually gain a full (formal) qualification. Breaking down programmes into discrete modules to allow for course exemptions and different paces of study can be challenging, but necessary for adults (OECD, 2019[50]; OECD, 2014[9]).

VET can play an important role in up-skilling and re-skilling adults – especially if it is of high-quality and well-aligned with labour market needs, but only if it designed in an adult-friendly way. International comparison shows that there are different ways to engage adults into VET (see Box 2.9). There are some cases of individual institutions in Thailand that have taken it upon themselves to adapt to the needs of adults – for example, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s (BMA) Vocational Training Centre provides a number of job training courses, including part-time and weekend courses (OECD, 2020[53]).

Many adults in VET have already acquired some skills in the workplace, formally or informally. As people work, in both the formal and informal economy,4 they gain new skills and knowledge. But without a formal qualification, they may have difficulty leveraging those new skills to find a new job or secure a promotion. Labour market mobility is essential for generating inclusive growth and sustaining a knowledge-based economy. When students can receive credits and course exemption for skill acquired outside of the formal education system, this would make it easier and more attractive for adults to participate in VET.

Skills recognition can be used to give access to an education or training programme, in recognition of pre-existing skills (e.g. a person who did not complete upper secondary education may access a postsecondary programme). This can widen access to further learning opportunities. One challenge is that potential beneficiaries may have weaknesses in some areas (e.g. learning in academic settings, literacy or numeracy). To address this, a number of countries have implemented initiatives that offer targeted support to students who might otherwise struggle (Kis and Windisch, 2018[54]).

Skills recognition can also be used to reduce programme duration. This route is suited to learners who already hold some of the skills targeted by the VET programmes, but not all of them. Several OECD countries have education and training schemes that allow for reduced duration (Kis and Windisch, 2018[54]). In Thailand, in theory, workers can use both their work experience and prior education records to earn extra credits with an exemption of some particular courses based on their experience This is possible in 32 different fields - including industry, mechanics, metallurgy, high power electricity, electronics, computer techniques, construction, agriculture and tourism. According to the previous experience, the lengths of the coursework can be shortened to eight months, in the formal, non-formal and dual system. In the case in dual programmes, a maximum of two-thirds of total credit hours can be accredited for prior learning. Within the Thai system of recognition of prior learning (RPL), one out of three assessors must be an industry representative. Trainees are provided with additional courses after validation of their experience or assessment of prior learning (Office of the Vocational Education Commission, 2020[55]). No data are available on the actual use of these possibilities in Thailand, which may be very limited. Education institutions sometimes have inadequate financial incentives to recognise prior learning, particularly if course exemptions trigger reduced fee income or public funding. Compensatory mechanisms can balance this effect. In Denmark the government provides institutions issuing RPL certificates (and therefore shortening the duration of the programme) with one-off funding (Field et al., 2012[56]).

Finally, skills recognition can also be used to give VET qualifications without a required training programme. This route is suited to individuals who have most or all of the skills required by the targeted qualification. For example, several countries allow access to the final examination in apprenticeships for candidates with relevant work experience (see Box 2.10). This option can serve as an alternative to regular apprenticeships or offer second chances to low-qualified adults.

Undertaking validation is demanding, as it depends on the capacity of a person to identify and articulate their existing skills and prove them. This may be particularly hard for disadvantaged adults – even though the potential benefits of validation would be particularly large for them. In addition, validation may sometimes receive little support from employers (Kis and Windisch, 2018[54]).

Thailand’s regions are at widely different levels of economic development, and VET can play a key role in closing the gap. Comparisons between frontier and lagging provinces in terms of labour productivity growth show that provincial human capital endowments matter in two ways. Provinces that converge towards the frontier have a higher share of workers who attained upper secondary education than diverging provinces, while almost 30% of the workforce in lagging provinces have never completed primary school. At the same time, provinces at the frontier have higher a share of workers who have completed tertiary education than in other provinces. A secure and inclusive economic transition therefore depends on the capacity of Thai provinces and regions to upgrade the skills of their labour forces and to generate innovation. Expanding access to upper secondary is crucial for diverging provinces to catch up. Employment surveys show that, across all regions, students that decide not to pursue higher education obtain better salaries if they complete upper secondary vocational training, rather than upper secondary general education. The wage premium of VET over general secondary education is above 20% in all regions. It is highest in the North and Northeast, where salaries for VET graduates are even higher than in Bangkok. Moreover, VET graduates also show higher rates of insertion. At the national level, nine out of ten skilled workers find qualified jobs, and the share is above 90% in every region (OECD, 2019[58]).

Looking at the students currently enrolled in VET programmes (certificate and diploma) or general upper secondary programmes, the distribution looks very similar across regions (see Figure 2.12). Enrolment in VET relative to general education is highest in the South, Northeast and Central regions. Looking only at the upper secondary level, VET (i.e. certificates only) accounts for around one in three students on average, with the share being highest in the Southern region and lowest in the northern region. Within VET, the distribution over certificate and diploma programmes also only slightly differ between regions, ranging from 63% of VET students in certificate programmes in Bangkok and the Southern region to 66% in the Northeast region.

Regional differences are more outspoken for the fraction of VET students enrolled in private institutions. In Bangkok, almost 70% of VET students in certificate programmes and 80% of VET students in diploma programmes are in private institutions. This is the case for less than 20% of students in the Southern and Northern regions. This partially reflects the different mix of provision in Bangkok compared to other regions, with public institutions focusing more often on more technical fields –which are in lower demand in the Bangkok region. As discussed above, strong quality assurance mechanisms are important for private providers. Moreover, as private VET institutions often charge higher tuition fees than public providers, it needs to be ensured that this does not create barriers to access, especially for disadvantaged groups.

Differences by region also can be seen in data on VET institutions. The number of institutions varies strongly between regions, with only 98 VET institutions in the Bangkok region and 299 in the Northeast region. Bangkok and the Northeast region are the only regions to have more private than public VET institutions. By contrast, in the Northern region only 38% of all VET institutions are private. The differences in the number of institutions of course partially reflect differences in the size of the VET student population. When looking at the number of institutions relative to the total number of students, difference between regions are relatively small, with the exception of the Southern region. While other regions have between 1 100 and 1 200 VET students per VET institution on average, in the Southern region there are only 830 VET students per institution. When looking at the number of institutions relative to the total youth population (aged 15 to 24), differences are a bit more outspoken. The Bangkok and Northern region have over 12 000 youth per VET institution, while the Central and Southern region only have around 10 000 youth per VET institution.

Data on the number of students per public VET institution show large differences in institution size, with the smallest public VET institution having only 30 students (located in the Northeast region) and the largest having just over 7 500 students (in the Central and the Northeast region). In the Southern and Northern regions around 60% of public VET institutions have fewer than 1 000 students, while in the Bangkok and Northeast region this is only the case for less than 30% of institutions (see Figure 2.13). The Southern region has the largest share of small institutions (26%), i.e. with fewer than 500 students, and the smallest share of institutions with more than 3 000 students (9%). As discussed above, too small VET institutions can problems in achieving an acceptable quality level, and some countries have started consolidation processes in such cases (see Box 2.4).

Technology has the potential to increases access to a wide range of VET programmes, also in remote or rural areas with few and/or small VET institutions. For example, students can access online course or modules that are not delivered in their local VET institution. Likewise, virtual reality and simulators can give students access to technologies or virtual workplaces that are difficult to access in their local area. While these technologies have many potential benefits, including through their scalability, they require an initial investment, both in equipment and infrastructure, and in the skills of teachers. Box 2.11 provides examples of the use of technology to support students in accessing the required training content.

When introducing technology in VET, it needs to be ensured that this does not exacerbate existing inequalities. The COVID-19 outbreak and the closing of schools have shown that distance learning can result in important inequalities in access to education. The digital divide hugely impacts access to education, especially for students without computers and home Internet (Thailand Development Research Institute, 2021[60]). For example, only 21% of Thai households have computers, with important differences between Bangkok (41%) and the rest of the regions.

Regional differences do not only exist in enrolment and provision of VET, but also in the quality of VET provision. Teachers play a key role in the quality of VET. One factor that could contribute to regional differences in VET quality is the low supply of qualified teachers in rural areas. OECD analysis presented in Chapter 3 shows that the education sector is the sector experiencing the largest shortages in the Thai labour market. Shortages of qualified teachers could result in higher student-teacher ratios and in the reliance on under-qualified teachers. It is not only important to attract a sufficient number of VET teachers, but also to ensure that these teachers have the right skills. Although all teachers in Thailand are obliged to possess an undergraduate degree, a recent World Bank report (Lathapipat, 2015[63]) highlights that while one out of five teachers in schools under the OBEC in Bangkok also have a graduate degree, only one out of 11 teachers have graduate degrees in the Mae Hong Son province, where schools are smaller in size on average. In addition, teachers in Bangkok have more years of experience on average.

As Figure 2.14 shows, principals in rural upper secondary education institutions in Thailand are more likely than those in urban areas to report that a lack of teaching staff hinders the institution’s capacity to provide instruction. Likewise, principals in rural education institutions in Thailand are more likely to report issues around inadequately or poorly qualified teaching staff than in urban areas. These challenges are common across VET and general education institutions.

Student-teacher ratios in public VET institutions differ between regions, ranging from 20 VET students per teacher on average in the Southern region to 29 in the Northeast region (see Figure 2.15). In all regions except Bangkok, the student-teacher ratio is higher in VET than in general education (all levels under the OBEC). On average across OECD countries, the student-teacher ratio in upper secondary education equals 13 both for general and vocational programmes (OECD, 2020[64]).5 In about 40% of OECD countries with data, the student-teacher ratio is greater in upper secondary vocational programmes than in general ones. A combination of several factors may influence the variation in student-teacher ratios between vocational and general upper secondary programmes. In some countries, vocational programmes are significantly work-based, so vocational students spend considerable time outside the school resulting in fewer teachers. Countries where more than half of upper secondary vocational students are enrolled in combined school- and work-based programmes tend to have an equal or higher number of students per teacher in vocational than in general programmes. In contrast, in most countries where all upper secondary vocational students are enrolled in school-based programmes, the student-teacher ratio in general programmes tends to be the same or higher than in vocational ones. However, programme type alone does not explain all differences between student-teacher ratio in vocational and general upper secondary education. Other factors, such as field of study, also influence the student-teacher ratio in vocational programmes. Some fields require greater instructor attention and supervision, particularly those where students have access to more sophisticated equipment. This may be particularly the case in technical fields such as engineering, manufacturing and construction, or some specialties in health and welfare. Smaller classes are often seen as beneficial, because they allow teachers to focus more on the needs of individual students and reduce the amount of class time needed to deal with disruptions. Yet, while there is some evidence that smaller classes may benefit specific groups of students, such as those from disadvantaged backgrounds, overall evidence of the effect of class size on student performance is mixed (OECD, 2020[64]).

From a policy perspective, the regional gaps in teacher supply and quality can be addressed by strategically increasing investments and re-structuring the incentives currently in place for teacher placement (OECD, 2020[53]). The present teacher management system allows teachers to select their location once they have been in service for over two years, with salaries of teachers in remote areas being lower on average. This is partly driven by the fact that these tend to be younger and less experienced teachers compared to those working in cities. For teachers with official with permanent employment, salaries cannot vary between locations. In this context, it is positive that Thailand has been working on improving the incentives in place for younger teachers. At the request of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance has agreed on providing financial support for rural teachers working in hardship locations, helping them to sustain their daily lives and hoping to encourage them to keep teaching in hard-to-reach locations for more than two years. In Australia, certain states provide targeted incentives and other support measures for teachers to teach in remote areas to experience teacher shortages (see Box 2.12). In VET, one strategy for alleviating teacher shortages is to attract industry professionals, who can bring their industry knowledge and experience to classroom (see Box 2.13 for examples). Partnerships with employers can facilitate the involvement of industry professionals in VET teaching. Such a strategy should be combined with flexible training and qualification programmes in place to allow these industry professionals to also develop the necessary pedagogical skills (OECD, 2021[65]).

Beyond differences in teacher quality between urban and rural sectors, there are other disparities that are visible along geographical divisions, such as insufficient material resources and physical infrastructure. Figure 2.16 shows that according to PISA data, material shortages are more intensive in VET programmes in Thailand than in general programmes, and in rural areas than in urban areas.7

As gaps in physical infrastructure and learning material contribute to low the quality of teaching instruction, future increases in public education expenditure should be oriented towards reducing these gaps as well. In VET, a strong work-based learning system reduces the need for expensive equipment, as students learn a large proportion of the curriculum in the workplace. As discussed in chapter 3, for work-based learning to be effective, workplace trainers need to have a good understanding of what skills they need to develop in their students and also have the right skills to support the learning of the students. Other forms of collaboration between VET and employers can also alleviate the need for expensive equipment in schools, such as for example the establishment of employer-led training centres (see Box 2.14). As discussed above, technology can also play a role, as the economies of scale associated to VR, AR and simulators imply that these technologies can be used in a large number of VET schools and in different fields-of-study, which reduces the need for schools to invest in expensive equipment. Moreover, these technology solutions can be updated regularly following the latest developments in industry, reducing costs related to investment in expensive equipment.

Finally, another dimension of quality in regard to regional differences is access to work-based learning opportunities. As discussed in Chapter 3, work-based learning is integrated in school-based VET programmes and those programmes can also be delivered as dual programmes, taking place for a large part in the workplace. But the roll-out of the dual system seems to differ between regions, see Figure 2.17. While data on student participation in dual programmes by region are not available, data on the number of companies participating in the system show some interesting regional differences. The number of employers in the dual system ranges from around 1 000 in Bangkok to around 6 300 in the central region. When expressing this relative to the total number of students enrolled in vocational programmes (certificate and diploma, irrespective of whether they are part of the dual system or not), substantial differences remain: the Southern region has around 30 participating companies per 1 000 VET students, the Central and Northern region between 25 and 30, the Northeast region around 15, and the Bangkok region only just under 10.

While the availability of work-based learning (WBL) opportunities depends strongly on the economic realities of the region, it is important to ensure that companies from different sizes and sectors participate. This will also make the provision better aligned with the needs of all the different sectors of the economy, as further discussed in Chapter 3.

In order to achieve the Thai government’s objective of expanding the size of the VET sector, and to overcome reported skill shortages, VET programmes and institutions should become more attractive. This will require actions on different fronts. First, vocational students need to be able to move easily into further learning opportunities, both vocational and general education ones. This is essential to increase the status of VET, and also to meet the needs of the labour market. Such transitions are not very common in Thailand: less than 10% of students in tertiary education come from a VET background. Second, the VET system needs to be easy to navigate. The Thai system consists of a large variety of institutions, reflecting a multiplicity of stakeholders, including different ministries and agencies, and parallel governance arrangements. This may support diversity and innovation, but it also creates confusion for students and employers. A simpler system would be easier to co-ordinate, and more efficient financially. Third, higher quality programmes with strong labour market outcomes will automatically make the VET system more attractive to students. However, out-of-date curricula, lack of resources and equipment are mentioned by different stakeholders as key issues for the Thai VET system. Quality issues may be especially present in private and small institutions. High quality of VET programmes, based on sound quality assurance mechanisms, is a precondition for the growth of the sector and the development of pathways.

Expanding the VET system should happen in an inclusive way, creating opportunities for all. Increasing opportunities for groups who are currently underrepresented in VET, including women and adults, will make the system more equitable and can contribute to tackling skill shortages in the Thai labour market. Career guidance can help break gender stereotypes and help students make informed choices and navigate the currently complex VET landscape. VET could play an important role in up-skilling and re-skilling of adults in a changing world of work, but additional flexibility and support is need to help overcome barriers that adults often face when it comes to training participation. Finally, regional disparities in the quality of VET, in terms of the availability of qualified teachers and of adequate teaching resources, are substantial, and these have to be better monitored and tackled.


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← 1. The EEC development framework estimates the plan will need 173 705 people with vocational qualifications. But the country is still 55 642 (or 32%) short of that number (Thailand Development Research Institute, 2019[4]).

← 2. Training institutions achieving a good performance during the previous year are allocated THB 500 000–2 000 000 (USD 14 000– 56 000), depending on the public budget available.

← 3. Dropout rate is computed by dividing total number of dropouts in the relevant level (Cert. or Dip.) by total enrolments in that level (using the same academic year figures).

← 4. Workers in the informal economy can acquire foundation skills, professional and personal skills, core work skills and technical and vocational skills both before they start working in the informal economy, and once they start working. Many of those working in the informal economy will have experienced periods of formal education and training, some type of schooling, perhaps technical or vocational training (or tertiary education). Some people will also bring into the informal economy skills they have acquired in a previous (or concurrent) formal sector job.

← 5. The student-teacher ratio in primary and lower-secondary equals 15 and 13, respectively, on average across OECD countries.

← 6. State (Perkins) approved and elective VET programmes and industrial technology programmes.

← 7. Because of small sample sizes, these results need to be interpreted with caution.

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