Thailand/ 21 July 2020/ Source/ https://qswownews.com/
Speaking at the Standard Economic Forum, Associate Professor Gasinee Witoonchart, the rector of Thammasat University and Mr. Anuphong Assavabhokhin, Vice-chairman and Chief executive officer of AP Thailand explained the problems in Thailand’s education system and the reasons why fresh graduates are lacking what the cooperates and business are looking for.
Assoc. Prof. Gasinee, started by examining the cause of the problems in the Thai education system. He observed that the system puts too much emphasis on memorizing the core knowledge set by the system without inculcating the skill of thinking, analyzing, and questioning. Besides, nowadays, people value the word “degree” more than recognizing that it is actually the “skills” that will remain with the students for life and are essential for their future careers.
Assoc. Prof. Gasinee said “We, at Thammasat University, have been working on this problem for quite some time. We value the first-hand experience as much as the knowledge. We partner with private sectors in many industries which allows our students to adapt their knowledge and experience into the curriculum through workshops and a chance to actually work in those firms.”
“Our curriculum is designed to be more flexible. There are 2+2 (double degree), where students study 2 years in Thammasat University and 2 more years abroad, including working as an intern, 4+1 (double major) which allows the students to major in 2 disciplines for their bachelor’s degree. Students are able to maximize their interest by studying both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 5 years.”
She also added “The students will have the real working experiences and adapt to their future careers. These curriculums also encourage students to see the learning opportunities outside of the classroom, which is a great benefit to the student and the working community. Everyone, including the teachers, has to adapt to both the curriculum and the new learning-teaching experience. Adaptability is a must-have skill for everyone, especially in the time of change to the “New Normal” lifestyle.”
Assoc. Prof. Gasinee also explained about the coursework and other activities. “More importantly, every curriculum has the course that teaches the student to become “New-gen graduates” where students hone their critical thinking skills, train their responsibility, sense of duty, as well as work in a real environment, helping them learn and make sure they are well prepared for the future.”
“Moreover, we also create “Living Labs” around our campus. The labs are not in any designated building or room, the labs are everywhere allowing the students to learn how to solve the problems, and learn from real-life situations and the environment.”
“In this fast-paced world, the teachers not only have to be an expert in their field, but they also have to know how those knowledge work in today world. We also have a teacher-sharing system, where we can ask for the skilled teacher in a specific field from the university in the sharing-system to teach with our teacher so that the students can learn from the best and the teacher can learn new teaching method,” said Assoc. Prof. Gasinee.
“Not to mention, the partnership program like the one with Harvard University, USA. Faculty of Architecture and Planning Thammasat University and Graduate School of Design, Harvard University have signed in a partnership program to develop the knowledge and hosting an option studio program for graduate students in an international program at the Faculty of Architecture and Planning Thammasat University.”
Assoc. Prof. Gasinee also mentioned that to make sure Thammasat graduates have the skills for the future, the university has started using the GREATS standard to evaluate the students. The evaluation acronym stands for Global mindset, Responsibility, Eloquence, Aesthetic appreciation, Team leader, and Spirit of Thammasat.
“We have been issuing certificates for students that qualified for all 6 criteria. However, we don’t stop there, we are still adapting the evaluation criteria to match the current situation as well.”
Mr. Anuphong Assavabhokhin said that at AP Thailand, he expects fresh graduates to be able to work from the first day, but the problem is most of them cannot do that. Accepting them is a tough challenge for the company. Ten years ago, companies often gave them training and preparatory work. However, nowadays, young people usually work for one company for a short period, like 1 – 2 years, making it hard for the company to keep them.
“This situation is what makes the company more skeptical when it comes to training fresh graduates. We do think the education system should adapt the curriculum and coursework to include the skills useful for the working environment. Additionally, the government sectors should help in the updating, because within the next ten years, 40% of the positions available today will be gone. There will be new jobs that require the latest set of skills, and that will be what the companies want,” added Mr Anuphong.
He added that “In 2017, AP Thailand worked with Stanford University, USA, in research to figure out what are the future skills and how our staff can achieve them. Stanford always encourages the teachers to work in other jobs alongside their teaching careers. The teachers should spend 80% of their time teaching and 20% in a company or a startup. So, they have access to the first-hand experience in their field and teach the students about it. This policy is a great example of how the university can make a change toward future skills for the students.”
“Nowadays we have to admit that our students cannot do that. They have the knowledge, but they still cannot apply it; or even worse, they have the dated version of the knowledge which is not what the company wants. There are a lot of open positions in the market, but most of the time, the applicants are not qualified.”
In summary, the main problems of the fresh graduates are lack of the know-how to apply their knowledge, and the right knowledge for the position resulted in failing to work in the real working environment Mr. Anuphong explained that universities are not the only one to blame. To improve the learning culture and the education system in Thailand to suits the future, private and public universities, and the related sectors have to come together and help each other in crafting the best curriculum for the students.”
Mr. Anuphong said that the key skills that AP Thailand is looking for when hiring are decision-making, problem-solving, effective communication, collaborative skills, ability to relearn and and an open mindset.
“I believe that a positive mindset is the most important thing the company can look for in the applicants. It is essential to know what your goal is and have the right passion and mindset to learn. Digital literacies are also among the sought-after skills. Lastly, soft skills, derived from social activities in our daily life is also important. I can assure you that with these skills, they will be able to find their place in the job market.” concluded Mr. Anuphong.