THE Asean Economic Community (AEC) plan for a free flow of labour in eight professions may face problems, including |different regulations to allow skilled workers in each member country and different languages and culture, a Chulalongkorn University study revealed yesterday.

More-developed countries would benefit from the free flow most, the research said. The Thai service sector would be most affected by labour shortages, followed by agriculture and industry, it said.

While Thailand’s doctors, dentists, nurses, engineers, plus those in the tourism and hospitality sector, are seen as being well placed, Thai accountants have some structural issues and lacking in their usage of modern technology, according to the study conducted by Faculty of Economics lecturers Danupon Ariyasajjakorn and Somprawin Manprasert. Two other professions were surveyors and architects.

The study, about the impacts from the flow of skilled labour after the AEC starts, at the end of next year, was funded by the Thailand Research Fund (TRF).

Positive impacts from the AEC included business operators having more opportunities to select good quality workers and to move their production bases, as well as cooperation in labour and human resource development, plus related academic |projects among Asean countries, Danupon said.

Negative impacts included business operators’ fear of a “brain drain” – a loss of good quality skilled workers to other Asean countries that pay higher wages, he said.

The researchers suggested that the government to support workers’ skill development in all fields, plus issuing regulations for professional standards, and promoting Thailand as an educational hub for doctors, dentists and nurses, as well as tourism and hospitality.

They also urged the government to promote foreign language skills and the usage of technology for Thai workers, while |setting up clear policies and regulations for migrant workers, especially unskilled migrants. –The Sunday Nation