How can Thailand and Vietnam tackle their skills gap?

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A breakdown of how Thai and Vietnamese policymakers can address the soft and hard skills gaps in their growing economies to equip youth with the skills required to thrive in the next decade and beyond.  
There is ample opportunity for change and improvement in the workforces of Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand and Vietnam. Currently, almost half of the Vietnamese workforce, and over three-quarters of workers in Thailand, are classed as “medium skilled,” according to data from the International Labour Organization.  
The two countries are in a transitory period – moving away from agriculture and manufacturing-driven growth to more dynamic, knowledge-based economies. This presents an ideal opportunity to refocus the two countries’ educational priorities and equip their citizens with the right skill sets for the future.  
Going forward, the goal for these countries’ governments is to shift the needle towards not only a larger proportion of higher skilled workers in their respective labour pools, but also to produce workforces better able to compete on the global stage, thus attracting more external investment.  
As a result, for the two governments, vocational education has become a high priority, including supporting institutions that implement programs like Pearson’s vocational and experience-based BTEC courses.  
The administrations of Thailand and Vietnam are both keen to see improvements in hard skills – specific, learned technical abilities, such as qualifications in information technology, reading and writing proficiency, as well as presentation and project management skills.  
These are specific skills that need to be directly taught, according to Stuart Connor, Pearson Asia’s Qualifications & Assessment Director. At the same time, he adds, there are more general (or soft skills), which are more innate but no less important. These include interpersonal skills, such as the ability to collaborate, network and empathise with co-workers.