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Can’t find anyone to work in Thailand

I've talked to many business owners lately about the problem of finding labour in Thailand, everyone is having the same problem, whether it's a thai owned company or a foreign owned company. Business owners simply can't find enough workers. I know of one guy who is trying to hire 7 people and can't find a single applican't.

According to the international monetary fund, the thailand unemployment rate stands at around 1.2 percent? What? I think texas has an umemployment rate of about 10% right now, it's a stark contrast. No wonder no-one can find anyone to work for them.

When this problem came up for my father who owns a shop in chiang mai he's trying to find someone to drive his bikes around the city. But can he find anyone to do it? no! Is he able to pay more than other driving jobs? Yes! So why won't anyone come along and fill the gap?

Immigration is a big problem when it comes to the Thai Labour force and is definately holding thailand back from being able to grow. As i said i know of several succesfful businesses that want to grow and expand but simply can't do it because they can't find the staff to do it. Because the government is so strict on immigration and for those coming here looking for a job is the reason for the shortfall. A healthy growing economy should have an unemployment rate of about 5%. This allows enough people out of a job that even the crappy jobs are easy to fill. The more easy it is to fill a job the more more work that gets done. I recently heard China has a workforce shortage as well? And they have a billion people!

So all these business i know are trying to expand their business simply can't because their is noone to do the jobs. You might think this pushes up wages but it doesn't, you see you can't raise wages if you can't grow and expand your business. Giving someone a higher wage won't increase productivity. But creating more jobs creates more management positions and in turn increases the average wage.

Let me show you why this is such a problem, and i'll give my dads business as an example. My dad is trying to find a driver for the bike. There is 1% unemployment so he needs to connect with someone with some experience as well.

He contacts 1000 people and only 10 people are looking for work. Only 1 in a thousand people would like to do this job so that means he would have to connect with 100,000 drivers before he can find someone. He needs to hire 4 people so that's 400,000 people he needs to connect with before he'll find the drivers he needs. There's only 500,000 people in total in the area he lives that's of all ages. So you see it's to difficult and almost impossible to find the drivers. There simple isn't enough people in the unemployment pool.


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About Chris

Chris founded LivingThai.org in 2011 and has received over 3 million visitors. In 2017 he stopped writing new content (although does update the site) and is now focused on writing for his new website SlyNomad.com.

2 Responses to Can’t find anyone to work in Thailand

  1. The Farang August 7, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    Part of the reason for it is because most companies over-hire. For instance, the street I used to live on had three security guards posted 24 hours a day to raise and lower the gate for vehicles. The only problem is that they never lowered the gate. So you had three people not doing anything.

    So, part of the wage problem has to do with productivity, not just scarcity. If you only had to hire one guard for the gate, two others would be looking for work. But because it’s so cheap to hire two or three people and you hire three and hope at least one of them is awake.

    Or go into any department store in Thailand and look at how many people are involved in ringing up your sale. They’ll often have one girl who walks you to the register and takes your items from you and hands them to a cashier. The cashier will ring up your purchases while another girl gently folds and puts them into a bag.

    This is if the place is short of staff. If they’re staffed like most department stores, you’ll also have one or two managers standing around who smile and wai you. Another two or three cashiers and maybe a stock boy who is called upon to go get staples, when the stapler gun goes dry and they absolutely, positively insist that some promo flyer must be stapled to your receipt.

    Or how many times have you walked past a restaurant with no customers and six staff sitting around eating? Or how many bars have you been in that have more staff than customers?

    If Thailand increased productivity by only hiring competent people and only hired enough needed for the job, Thailand’s unemployment rate would skyrocket to 15% or more.

    • Chris August 8, 2012 at 8:29 am #

      I laughed reading that whole comment.

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