According to the World Bank, Thailand’s total GDP in 2015 was almost $400 million, far surpassing other countries in Southeast Asia like Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Jobs in Thailand are diverse, and in recent years the economy has seen strong support from two key sectors: manufacturing and services.
Additionally, the construction sector is projected to see major growth in 2017 and beyond. The government of Thailand has major infrastructure upgrades planned for the next decade. These upgrades will help encourage growth in a number of areas, and Thailand’s Ministry of Transport has formed partnerships with neighbors including China and Japan to help make these upgrades a reality.
Before discussing these sectors in more detail and future jobs in Thailand, however, it’s important to talk about the country’s road map for continued economic prosperity: Thailand 4.0
The Thai government developed a numerical system for describing its economic makeup both in the past and for the future. Thailand 1.0 refers to the earliest days of Thailand when the economy emphasized the agricultural sector. Thailand 2.0 came next with light industries like textiles, and this phase was important because it upgraded the economy from low income to middle income status.
Thailand 3.0 represents modern day jobs in Thailand in various heavy industries, but this has lead to a middle income trap where in growth stagnates at the middle income level.
Enter Thailand 4.0, the government’s ambitious plan for the future that focuses on creativity and innovation. If successful, Thailand will rely less on cheap, unskilled labor in the future and will become a knowledge based economy.
Thailand is the 17th largest manufacturer in the world, and this sector is projected to grow 3.2 percent in 2017. Many jobs in Thailand fall into this sector. It accounts for 35 percent of GDP currently and is an important sector to help the country transition into Thailand 4.0.
For example, Thailand is the number one producer of natural and synthetic rubber worldwide, which has helped propel the country to becoming a middle income country. However, in order to become a high income nation, the country must develop advanced technological jobs in Thailand. Those in favor of Thailand 4.0 advocate for factory automation and want to see the country manufacturing complex, highly technical products in the future.
This makes sense given that electronics are the number one export sector. It accounts for 15 percent of GDP and represents an important part of Thailand’s future. There may be some bumps along the way in this area, and some jobs in Thailand may be lost. For example, Thailand is currently the second largest producer of hard disk drives in the world, but modern devices like smartphones and tablets use solid state drives a more advanced technology and more computer manufacturers are switching to solid state drives as well.
The services sector which includes tourism, banking, real estate, education, retail, and restaurants represents a significant portion of Thailand’s economic livelihood. This sector accounts for 50 percent of GDP and employs 40 percent of the workforce in the country. It represents a staggering number of jobs in Thailand.
Many of these areas are set to experience growth in 2017, with the most notable area being tourism.
Tourism revenue in 2016 came in at 2.53 trillion baht, representing 17.7 percent of Thailand’s GDP, and total tourism revenue in 2017 is projected to be 2.71 trillion baht in 2017. Strong growth in 2016 can be attributed to the increased number of Chinese tourists to the country. Tourist arrivals increased by 13.1 percent in the third quarter of 2016.
The Thai government sees infrastructure upgrades which would include new construction jobs in Thailand as a way to boost the economy due to weak consumer confidence and exports. Thailand has partnered with China and Japan in separate high speed rail projects as part of these upgrades.
Its partnership with China is especially important since it aligns with One Belt, One Road vision. The project is expected to cost 179 billion baht, and the first phase includes a track connecting Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima, a province in the northeast. Construction was scheduled to begin in late 2016.
In a separate deal representing additional jobs in Thailand, Thailand and Japan have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a high speed railway connecting Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The route was originally priced at 400 billion baht, but the Thai government is making efforts to reduce costs where possible. Construction was slated to begin at the end of 2016 and finish in 2020.
Not all areas are set to expand in the coming years. While it is true that income from agriculture has risen in recent years, this can largely be attributed to increased prices rather than increased productivity or new jobs in Thailand. Furthermore, Thailand was once the number one exporter of rice in the world, but it has now fallen behind Vietnam and India.
2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for Thailand’s economy and jobs in Thailand. Many sectors including manufacturing, services, and construction are predicted to expand in 2017 and beyond.
Economic expansion hinges upon the government’s ability to transition to Thailand 4.0, which, among other things, includes strong support of knowledge based jobs and production of highly technical products. Expect to see high demand for foreign experts since the country’s growth in these areas outpaces the amount of local talent that’s available.
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