Thai-German technical cooperation (TGTC) first began in the field of vocational education with the establishment of the Thai-German Technical School, now King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok (KMUTNB).

  • At first, TGTC adapted the German dual education system to produce skilled workers and technicians.
  • Later, as the needs of the Thai economy changed, TGTC in education shifted to more advanced courses.
  • Today, it stands as the pioneer of on-going academic and scientific cooperation between the two countries.

In the 1960s, the Thai government undertook its first steps towards industrialization as part of a policy of import substitution. The national economy would no longer rely solely on agriculture. However, lack of machinery and tools, together with a shortage of mechanics, skilled workers, and engineers, posed great challenges.

At that time, the Federal Republic of Germany already had a great deal of experience with its socalled dual vocational training system and had decided to share it by establishing model institutions around the world.

Dual vocational education in Germany Students usually spend about 1-2 days a week in theoretical classes. For the rest of the week, they practice their skills in compa¬nies. They are supervised by very experienced and highly qualified professionals.

As the first milestone of TGTC in Thailand, West Germany helped found the Thai-German Technical School in Bangkok in 1959. Later it became the King Mongkut Institute of Technology (KMIT), now the King Mongkut’s University of Technology, North Bangkok (KMUTNB).

Additional schools, such as the Thai-German Technical Institute in Khon Kaen and the Thai-German Agricultural Engineering Training Center in Patumthani, came along in the following years. These schools produced machine mechanics, electricians, industrial plumbers, agricultural engineers, etc. These schools did not follow the German model exactly. Instead, students were trained in school workshops equipped with works were commissioned by industry.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to write a few lines for your school magazine, especially since I know that you have set this maga¬zine up on your own initiative. Your German teachers, including me, have been in Thailand for several months now, and we realize what our future tasks will be like. I am grateful to the German Government for providing excel¬lent machinery and German teaching staff to give you the opportunity to attain good vocational training. [. . .]
If, today, you are impressed by such German products as machine tools or a Mercedes Benz car, you should keep in mind that all these technical achievements have been designed by men who, as apprentices, once filed the U-iron just as you are now.

Later, TGTC expanded basic vocational training to meet industrial demand in the provinces. For example, the Southern Institute for Skill Development (SISD) in Songkhla was created to offer short courses to less-privileged groups.

Activities also started up at more advanced levels. For instance, KMIT opened undergraduate programs in engineering. Additionally, the Development of Industry Oriented Graduate Education and Research in Engineering Project introduced programs combining university courses with on-the-job-training in companies to meet the demand for energy and environmentally friendly technologies, while the Thai-Ger-man Institute (TGI), founded in 1992, offered training in high-tech production for employees based on industry-specific needs.

Aside from vocational training, TGTC also pro-moted graduate study and institutes, e.g. supported the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) for many years to also help develop education at the regional level.

Germany was the ideal partner to assist Thailand in implementing Dual Vocational Training (DVT) on a national scale from 1988 to 2002. By the end, over 4,000 companies and 250 colleges were jointly offering vocational training courses.

These efforts were supplemented by the Vocational Guidance Systems Project (1999-2005), which tackled the employment imbalance in the labor market. In 20 provincial offices, special units offered well-informed counseling services on career decisions to young people in line with their interests, strengths, and skills.

Our school’s objective is not education for education’s sake but rather to respond to market and social demands. Developing human capital doesn’t just mean training people to be planners and thinkers; it means producing economic warriors. It’s not enough for someone to be able to work; the work and products also have to meet standards.

- Assoc. Prof. Dr. Somchob Chaiyavej, former Deputy Director of the Thai-German Technical School and former President of KMUTNB.
Did you know?... Although the dual vocational training system in Thailand used to be the largest in Asia, only a relatively small number of Thai students is currently enrolled in the system, despite the fact that companies usually appreciate the results and have offered good jobs. As a result, Thailand still suffers from a significant shortage of skilled workers and technicians.

When it comes to industry and creating a product, one needs very strong basic knowledge and skills, which I have gained already from my college years. If I don’t have sufficient knowledge and skills, I have to buy all of very expensive machinerys and equipment which are very expensive. But I cannot allow production costs to become that high. With strong basic skills, I am able to produce my own machinerys and reduce my production costs.

- Mr. Woravit Tearwattanarattikul, former student of the Thai-German Technical College. Now the Engineering Director of A.P.Y. Engineering Co., Ltd.
Did you know?... In 2002, Germany ranked number 3 among several hundred partners of AIT in term of cumulative contribution. The main proportion came from German scholarships and fellowships. Number 1 is Thailand and number 2 is Japan.