Thais fear AC English barrier
The launch of the Asean Community (AC) on Thursday, and the integration of regional economies through the free movement of skilled labour in an English-mediated environment, has prompted fears among Thais, who worry their English competency is not up to par to compete in the labour market.
Thais' poor grasp of the English language has generated concern among students, teachers and policy-makers, and comes despite the vast new employment opportunities promised by the Asean Economic Community (AEC).
According to the EF English Proficiency Index 2015 conducted by Education First Language Institute, Thailand is a non-English speaking country with "very low" English proficiency.
The English abilities of Thai people are ranked at 14th out of 16 countries in Asia and 62nd out of 70 countries worldwide.
Tothsaporn Thongdee, 20, a second-year higher vocational student at the Eastern Technological College in Chon Buri said he worries about whether his English is strong enough for his future career as an accountant, a profession that is granted free movement under the AEC.
"I think I'm good at accounting but I'm not sure I can find a job after graduation since my English is not good," he said.
Under the Asean Mutual Recognition Arrangements, professionals in eight fields are allowed free movement throughout the region.
The eight fields are accountancy, engineering, surveying, architecture, nursing, medical services, dental services and tourism.
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