With the third largest economy in Asia by GDP, high internet penetration and strong potential across industries, Thailand continues to be one of the major economic players in South East Asia and a country to watch.
Thailand has shown that it is a strong contender for high economic growth based on manufacturing, agriculture and engineering. Now, the technology sector is ideally positioned for an impressive showing in the upcoming years.
Thailand 4.0 is a nation-wide government initiative to grow the digital economy to contribute to 25% of its GDP by 2027. As Thailand is currently a major manufacturing and engineering hub, Thailand 4.0 leverages on that position, aiming to go further up the value chain to drive manufacturing and engineering efficiencies and innovations through technology such as AI, digitalisation and automation.
Thailand 4.0 has impressive goals and it requires investments in both infrastructure and education, setting the stage for success. The government has identified four areas to prioritise within the digital economy: commerce, entrepreneurship, innovation and content.
As Kristoffer Paludan, Regional Director at Michael Page Thailand says, “Thailand 4.0 is absolutely having a positive impact on the technology sector in Thailand. It is bringing in investments and opening up new opportunities. From a recruitment perspective, it is creating an increased need for skilled labour, and high demand for professionals skilled in specific functions such as engineering, digital technology and supply chain.”
As one of Asia’s leading manufacturing and agriculture hubs, the biggest news in tech in Thailand is coming from advances in Internet of Things (IoT), agritech, biotech, and foodtech. The development of the Eastern Economic Corridor is also a particular area of focus within tech, as the Eastern provinces look to increase their standing as a leading ASEAN economic zone.
The current state of technology
Currently, the technology sector in Thailand is firmly in a phase of growth and expansion. Especially within the start-up space, the main goal is to become known as a major technology influencer. As of now, Thailand hasn’t produced any home-grown unicorns similar to those in Indonesia and Singapore. However, success shouldn’t be far off, as one of the main goals of Thailand 4.0 is to produce at least 2-3 of these unicorns in the upcoming years.
Thai educational institutions are focussing on producing individuals with the right skill sets to advance foodtech and agritech in the near future. Currently there are 24 universities in Thailand that provide opportunities for up to 7,000 students each year to enter the workforce with backgrounds in these emerging tech fields.
The National Innovation Agency, or NIA, is a government agency that has the mission of supporting and developing Thailand’s main technology programs.
Hiring and talent prospects in Thailand
From a recruitment perspective in the technology sector, there is extremely high competition for top talent and skyrocketing salaries are a reflection of that. Salaries for competitive talent are being driven higher and higher because everyone wants to hire from the same talent pool.
At Michael Page Thailand, Paludan has seen the demand increase sharply for professionals. “There is high growth within tech, ecommerce and digital start-ups, significantly increasing the demand for hiring. It’s not easy for companies to find the talent they need, and start-ups are competing for the same types of people.”
While this is great news for technology professionals, it can pose a challenge for companies that are hiring and the overall sustainability of the market.
“The inflation in salaries for skilled tech professionals at the moment is staggering, showing how high the demand is compared to the supply of professionals.”
Because of the highly inflated salaries, it’s almost guaranteed that top candidates will not only have their pick of position, but also that they can demand – and receive - higher salaries than in other markets.
What this means for technology companies and professionals
As a tech company, the main challenge to focus on is talent and your talent pipeline. As demand for tech professionals goes up, looking to the future becomes essential. This means not only interviewing and hiring for current needs, but evaluating potential hiring needs, maintaining a robust pipeline of talent and being open to hiring flexibly. This is especially important for start-ups or other companies that expect to grow fast, as hiring needs can quickly change within months.
As a tech professional, Thailand is a great place to be. In high demand, tech professionals with the right skill sets can expect high salaries and multiple job offers.
Paludan has seen this first-hand: “Any skill sets focused on digital transformation are in high demand and will only go higher. Professionals skilled in analytics, AI, data analysis and digital project management will see impressive opportunities in the upcoming years in Thailand.”
Growth and investment for tech in Thailand
The tech industry in Thailand is poised for impressive growth, with government investment creating regional incentives for tech companies to start doing business or continue investing in technology in Thailand. While a laid-back lifestyle and the famous beaches may still be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Thailand, the technology industry is creating new and exciting opportunities for technology professionals and companies on a global scale.