The State of Thailand’s Workforce 2017

At the beginning of last year, we wrote a post about our thoughts on the State of Thailand’s Workforce in 2016. The last year has flown by, and we find ourselves well into Q1 of the new year. Some key changes and important events occurred during 2016, so we’re going to explore the effect this may have on the workforce for the rest of 2017.


2017 will see the recovery of the economy from the passing of His Highness Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. King Bhumipol was not only the world’s longest serving monarch but also an iconic figure amongst Thai people. The mourning period caused a decrease in spending and entrainment activities, which caused a slump in the local economy. The official mourning period officially ended on the 19th January 2017, marking 100 days from the date of His Majesty’s passing.

Following on from the passing of His Highness comes the coronation of the Thai Crown Prince, Maha Vajiralongkorn. As the monarchy plays a large part in Thai society, we may experience some unpredictability within the workforce and the market itself during the period where the new king is crowned.


As of the 1st January 2016, certain qualifying members of the ASEAN countries were given the go-ahead to legally reside and work in Thailand without a Work Permit (which is usually required for all foreign workers in Thailand). 2017 will see this new measure in full swing as an influx of ASEAN foreigners come to work in Thailand. The policy has been approved for foreign employees working in several industries including Hospitality, Engineering, and Accountancy.

What does this mean for the workforce? As it stands, Local Thai nationals face little competition from their foreign counterparts due to tight visa restrictions and requirements. The implementation of this new policy could mean that Thai’s are facing more threat than ever from expats within the job market. This could mean that the local workforce may choose to differentiate themselves by gaining higher-level educational qualifications and English speaking abilities.


Despite some of the events that took place last year, the Thailand economy is expected to grow by 3.5% in 2017. There is country-wide confidence in the economy, which will lead to higher investment and an overall positive impact on growth. The government will also be driving projects to promote Thailand’s special economic zones. This initiative should lead to job creation especially within the logistics, medical and digital sectors over the next year.

Last year saw a big hit to the Oil & Gas market, which meant that corporations with a large presence in Thailand, such as PTT and Chevron, were forced to make workforce cuts. This has resulted in job instability for many expat and Thai employees within the industry, who will be seeking to pursue a career in a new industry or wait for the market to make a recovery.


In Thailand, performance bonuses are a widely popular incentive for employees and are usually paid in January. According to recent data collated by JobsDB, the Automotive industry pays the highest performance bonuses of any industry in Thailand. This has inevitably attracted a large number of skilled workers into the sector, reeled in by the prospect of a big bonus. However, in 2015 there was a whopping 7.5% increase in the bonus payout, compared to only a 5.9% increase in 2016. Whilst money isn’t always a factor in a job or career change, we may start to see Automotive workers jump ship to other industries in pursuit of bigger bonuses.

Despite a turbulent last year, it looks like Thailand’s workforce is going to experience overall a positive year in 2017. Most importantly, the local workforce is becoming significantly more skilled due to increased access to technology and education. This, combined with the government’s efforts to promote economic growth, means that we’ve got a pretty good feeling about 2017!

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