Stanford Thailand Research Consortium Members Discuss Strategies for Addressing the Skills Gap in Thai Workforce Development
A virtual discussion hosted by the Stanford Thailand Research Consortium (STRC) today shared early results from its Innovative Teaching Scholars (ITS) program and explored industry perspectives on how to enhance the preparation of university students for Thailand’s transition to an innovation-based economy.
The panel, Future Thailand — Innovation in Education and Workforce Development featured Stanford University faculty associated with the ITS program as well as key executives from Thai corporations and focused on strategies for improving workforce readiness in Thailand and developing best practices that support educators in engaging and preparing the nation’s youth for career success.
Speaking from Stanford, California were Professor Sheri Sheppard, Richard W. Weiland Professor in the Stanford School of Engineering, and Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, Adjunct Professor in the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, who also acted as panel moderator.
Universities worldwide face a misalignment between how they are preparing students and the skills and mindsets those students will need to be successful in the future workforce, Dr. Britos Cavagnaro noted. The ITS program is unique in bringing together Thai educators interested in reimagining what education can be with innovators from the national corporate sector who are looking to hire young people ready to succeed in the Thai workplace of the future, she said. The ITS research program is currently equipping a cohort of 50 Thai university educators to experiment with new teaching methods that better prepare their students for career success and helping the teachers themselves become leaders able to inspire their colleagues and institutions to do the same.
Professor Sheppard leads a research effort aiming to understand the program’s impact on the educators and how they are teaching. In her remarks, Sheppard reported that both survey and interview data suggests educators in the first ITS cohort are successfully experimenting with new teaching strategies such as allowing students more agency in the classroom, a methodology that some teachers found challenging to realize but that also significantly increased student engagement. Future ITS research will explore whether cohort members continue to support one another in reimagining their classes and the degree to which they inspire colleagues in their local institutions to try new approaches to teaching themselves. Project researchers are also working with the ITS educator cohort, early-career professionals, and industry representatives to identify specific skills that will be key for future career success and to think further about how the ITS program could help its teachers better integrate those skills into their curricula.
To understand where gaps or overlaps exist between how educators conceptualize what's important for students to learn and the skills Thai companies would like future employees to possess, it’s essential to bring industry partners into the conversation, suggested Dr. Britos Cavagnaro.
Offering an industry perspective on what those skills might be and the broader need for workforce development around learning and innovation capacity in Thailand were Kantima Lerlertyuttitham, Group Chief Human Resources Officer at Intouch Holdings and Chief Human Resources Officer at AIS; Vittakarn Chandavimol, Chief Corporate Strategy and Creation, AP (Thailand); and Ruangroj Poonpol, Chairman, Kasikorn Business Technology Group.
AIS’s Kantima Lerlertyuttitham noted that in the context of a world in unceasing flux, with the impacts becoming more rapid and severe, it is incredibly important to develop new competencies among the Thai people to enhance the country's capabilities to progress and compete on the global digital stage. She said it was a “vital obligation” to coordinate efforts to create opportunities to strengthen the Thai people and cited the need for collaboration among the state sector, organizations and the educational sector, as well as the private sector. About the Stanford Thailand Research consortium, she said research from global experts such as Stanford University, working collaboratively on-the-ground in Thailand with SEAC, are an important step in laying foundations to upgrade the Thai people's knowledge concretely, increase Thai peoples’ capabilities, and drive the national economy in the future.
Ruangroj Poonpol explained that by fostering collaboration with the nation’s top academic and research institutes, the Kasikorn Business Technology Group can help create full-loop innovation from research to production and the collective knowledge and expertise will also help develop the next generation tech workforce with critical skills in Data Science, AI, OCR and Blockchain.
Supporting the next generation workforce requires the empowerment and innovation of educators, who build the connective experiences for students and learners, such as through student-centered learning experiences. This is the heart of what the ITS program is about and the kind of innovation that the Stanford Thailand Research Consortium hopes to enable through academic research.
AP’s Vittakarn Chandavimol offered his perspective and said that to be career-ready today, college students must go beyond mastery in their own subjects. They must be able to think critically, solve problems, communicate, collaborate, find good information quickly, and adapt to new technology effectively, he said. Creating an environment that enables and encourages creativity, collaboration and innovation on a continuous basis is the only way to create successful graduate in the fast pace, globalized economy, he said and explained that the AP OPEN HOUSE program reinforces the processes that enable students to practice these skills.
Wednesday’s virtual event, which was conducted in English with a live Thai translation, was open to educators, members of the public, and reporters.
The Innovative Teaching Scholars program is an initiative of the Stanford Thailand Research Consortium, which supports Stanford faculty-led research and education projects pertinent to key development areas for Thailand's future. The Consortium has over a dozen Stanford research and education projects underway, focusing on a diverse range of topics, such as using artificial intelligence to support improved elderly care, reducing deforestation and aiding small-hold farmers in Thailand’s Nan province, creating organizational insights around leveraging unstructured data, and understanding innovation through knowledge workforce development.
The STRC is based in Stanford’s Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Research, managed by the Stanford Center for Professional Development, and collaborates with SEAC in Thailand. The Consortium is supported by funding from AP (Thailand), Advanced Info Services PLC (AIS), and Kasikornbank.
Judith Romero, Stanford Center for Professional Development
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