Fresh graduates in Thailand face historic unemployment, uncertain job prospects

Thailand has been hit by two waves of the coronavirus pandemic, causing massive disruption for the economy and decimating several sectors of the economy. These sectors, long safe bastions for employment for the newly graduated, have not been able to cope with the ramifications of the pandemic and have had to downsize, never mind hire new staff.

As a result, both fresh graduates and recruiting offices have had to traverse uncertain terrain set against the backdrop of the biggest economic recession seen in a decade.

“We took more mindful steps and adjusted the number of job vacancies down in the past year,” said Sarun Kungbunpot, the Human Resources Senior Vice-President at the Bank of Ayudhya.

Sarun said that he was especially concerned with lingering economic fallout and the long term damage it was doing to the workforce.

He said the company has been focusing on productivity and retaining the financial liquidity in the time ahead which means less jobs for new grads.

The silver lining, according to Sarun, is that the market is booming for data engineer, software developer, and cybersecurity experts – jobs sorely needed in an era of tech-disruption and work-from-home necessities.

“Even we might have to compete with other firms to attract talented people in these fields to work with us,” said Sarun.

For other fields, uncertainty is key and employment opportunities are based on recovery prospects, innovation, and government policy.

“There will be an unlucky group who will not get any job offers during this time,” said Sarun.

Even those who are currently working are also at risk of getting laid off [based on experience].

JobsDB, a local e-recruitment portal, recorded a 18 per cent year-on-year jump in job applications for fresh graduates. But while application numbers are high, acceptance rates remain poor and the unemployment rate continues to keep rising.

The Employers’ Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry (EconThai) expect 500,000 graduates to enter the job market between March and April this year, adding to the 300,000 graduates still unemployed from 2020. 

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