Vocational Education

As of 2016 there were 426 colleges governed by the Vocational Education Commission (VEC), of the Ministry of Education and about the same number of private colleges.

Technical and vocational education (TVE) begins at the senior high school grade where students are divided into either general or vocational education. At present, around 60 percent of students follow the general education programmes. However, the government is endeavouring to achieve an equal balance between general and vocational education.

Three levels of TVE are offered: the Certificate in Vocational Education (Bor Wor Chor) which is taken during the upper secondary period; the Technical Diploma (Bor Wor Sor), taken after school-leaving age, and the Higher Diploma on which admission to university for a bachelor's degree programme may be granted. Vocational education is also provided by private institutions.

Dual vocational training (DVT)
Essential to DVT is the active participation of the private sector. In 1995, based primarily on the German model, the Department of Vocational Education launched the initiative to introduce dual vocational training programmes which involve the students in hand-on training in suitably selected organisations in the private sector.

DVT is a regular element of the DoVE "certificate" and "diploma" program. The training is for a period of three years with more than half of the time devoted to practical training on-the-job, spread over two days a week, or for longer periods depending on the distance, throughout the semesters.

Two levels of DVT are offered: the three-year certificate level for skilled workers where students and trainees are admitted at the age of 15 after completing Matthayom 3 (Grade 9); and the two-year diploma technician level for students who have graduated with the Certificate of Vocational Education after 12 years of formal education.
In the scheme, vocational, unlike regular internships, where students may be assigned to work on unpaid irrelevant jobs, the cooperative education programme enables students of the vocational schools to do field work while benefiting from an allowance to cover living expenses or free accommodation, and compensation for their contributions made towards the company's income and profits as temporary employees.

Schools collaborate directly with the private sector in drafting action plans and setting goals for students to meet. Generally, the company will offer permanent employment to the trainees on graduation and successful completion of the programme. Conversely, companies that recruit trainees from among young people who have completed a minimum of nine years at school may enroll their employees with a technical or vocational college where they are taught vocational subjects as the theoretical background to the occupational field in which they are being trained.

The Office of Vocational Education Commission showed student enrollment for the 2005 academic year as follows:
Technical colleges, 290,058; industrial and community colleges, 137,377; business administration and tourism colleges, 3,480; commercial colleges, 16,266; arts and crafts colleges, 2,214; polytechnic colleges, 36,304; vocational colleges, 89,703; agricultural and technology colleges, 34,914; Golden Jubilee Royal Goldsmith College, 525; industrial and shipbuilding colleges, 2,391; fishery colleges, 1,510; agricultural engineering training centres, 806; with a further 340,000 in private vocational schools.

Concerns of multi-national corporations
Shiro Sadoshima, the Japanese ambassador to Thailand, believes that the Thai government must invest more in education to produce a labour force that can meet the demands of Japanese industry. He noted that while Thailand has a policy to improve vocational skills and cultivate skilled labour, the skills exhibited by Thai workers are not up to Japanese standards. The ambassador's remarks echoed those of major Japanese manufacturers such as Toyota, which has been investing in Thailand for decades. Shuichi Ikeda, chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), also voiced concerns that even though Thailand has produced a lot of vocational graduates to serve rising demand for factory workers, those graduates lack required skills. Thailand is expected to produce around 67,000 vocational graduates over the next 10 years but only around 3,100 of them can meet labour standards and get a job, he said.