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Phuket Skills Gap Grows Wider as Pay Laws Bite

Sunday, August 5, 2012
PHUKET: About 70 percent of all workers on Phuket were from other Thai provinces or from overseas, the Director of the Phuket Provincial Employment Office, Noppadon Ploy-Audee, has revealed.

While Phuket needed thousands of workers, employers were hiring those with low qualifications because the law now said that people with degrees had to be paid 15,000 baht a month, he added.

And Khun Noppadon said that 7867 employers on Phuket legally paid 67,883 Burmese workers - but there were official requests for 125,551 Burmese. Of the official workers, 46,092 had verified their identity.

At the same time, he said, workers from Asean nations - especially the Philippines and Vietnam - were already filling positions on Phuket in advance of the 2015 Asean Economic Community.

The Filipinos worked as entertainers or Soi Bangla touts while the Vietnamese were mostly becoming retail outlet workers.

He added that Thai officials needed to ''open your minds'' to the need for skilled workers from overseas to operate as guides - especially to cater for Russian tourists - or to work in the diving industry.

But he added that his office employed six staff whose job it was to arrest illegal workers.

Of the workers from other provinces who came to Phuket, the largest segment came from Nakkorn Si Thammarat.

Khun Noppadon also said that 7164 work permits for foreigners on Phuket had been issued or renewed in June. Of these, 3735 were for Phuket City, 2411 for Kathu and 1017 for Thalang.

The national breakdown was: Britain 1072, Philippines 498, France 461, US 420, Russia 460, Germany 353, Italy 380, Australia 359, Sweden 288, Korea 301, Japan 158, China 251, Taiwan 22, India 195, Burma 247, Others 1699.

The work permits were for the following categories of businesses: Bars and restaurants, 684, Tourism, 749, Hotels, 739, Schools, 535, Property 463, Business and Management Consulting, 473, Clothes Retail, 340, Diving, Sports, 333, Rental/Guest Houses, 166, IT Skills, 152, Other, 2530.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


I work at a major 5 star resort in Phuket and we employ 97% from other provinces, although the owners are Phuket originals.

Although we are considered a luxury resort, people from Phuket are too good for us to hire. The owners do not want to give reasonable benefits such as:
-air-conditioned bus
-cleaning the uniform for them
-working less than 6 days per week
-pay the full service charge
-15,000 THB for degree holders (WHEN DID THIS BECOME LAW?)

So, the owners think its better we hire poor people who live in slums... and stay that way.

Posted by MJ on August 5, 2012 14:19


you hit the nail MJ.
the brother of my wife works in a 4 star hotel and has to work 6 days a week at a hotelbar in the eveningshift. 10 hours a day and in the low season he get no service charge and 8000 fix salery. the problem is as well that many good workers dont wont to work anymore like that and maybe choose to work as black taxi insteed:)

Posted by mike on August 5, 2012 21:33


Excellent summary MJ.

I have no inside information of the hotel business but your conclusions all sound logical and sound.

Would be great to hear more comments on this subject from those who work in the industry.

Posted by Andrew on August 6, 2012 11:57


Bottom line is that there is a major shortage of staff in the hotel industry in Phuket and very difficult to recruit either staff from other provinces or from those already living in Phuket. Phuket is expensive and even with the 9000 min salary increase we are not seeing new talent coming to the island. We offer a 5 day work week, A/C bus transport, clean uniforms, pay service charge and so much more. Conclusion - We still cannot recruit talent.

Posted by Hotelier on August 6, 2012 13:54


@ Hotelier

Thanks for the insight.

Can I ask you what specific kind of talent you refer to or is it something as basic as proper English skills ?

I know quite a few Filipinos who work in hotels here and they seem to be very well received.

Posted by Andrew on August 6, 2012 17:04


Talent is as simple as qualified chefs, english skills for guest facing staff, qualified engineers and more. The issue is as my Thai senior managers tell me is just 5 years ago the tradition of a person staying two years in a role before they moved hotel or moved to a more senior role has gone. Now with so many hotels opening staff will jump for the next new opening seeking a 500 baht increase or a promotion to supervisor after just a year or less in a line position role.

Most filipinos in hotels play in bands for example and if in other rolls that as entry level I am surprised companies can get visa's for them. If possible I would hire filipinos!

Posted by Hotelier on August 7, 2012 15:16


Hotelier, I find it slightly hard to believe you have trouble recruiting talent with "a 5 day work week, A/C bus transport, clean uniforms, pay service charge and so much more."

I think you are getting talent, its just not exactly the level you hoped it would be.

For the 5 star resort I work at which doesnt have those benefits... we are also getting talent albeit less skilled then what your getting..

There is a zero % unemployment rate in Phuket. Anyone can work! However this mean standards are really low. For my 5 star resort the staff will nonetheless be much less talented than at "hotelier's" due to the benefits difference.

Posted by MJ on August 16, 2012 08:45


Don't worry, come 2015 the floodgates will open and Asians from all over will plague Phuket and fill those vacancies before you can say 'Jack Rabbit' Thais will get the short end of the stick when employers will only want to employ the cream, those willing to work, have no hangups with working with foreigners and most importantly, speak good English !

Posted by reader on September 19, 2012 00:22


Tourists who stay in 4/5 star hotels, pay 4/5 star prices. I understand that it's difficult to hire " good" staff but I defy any foreigner to live on 9000 baht a month on Phuket, paying rent, electricity, food and schools for their children! Have you seen how phuket's work force lives ? If not, take a good look!

Posted by Elizabeth on December 31, 2012 13:05


Agree with Hotelier. We are a 4 1/2 resort and also provide 5 days working week, A/C staff bus, staff housing, 300 min salary and full service charge. Still getting qualified staff is tough. (with qualified of course i mean someone applying for a cook job, has experience in it, someone for front line, speaks ok English, etc....we are not looking for miracles here). I think that many staff working for some of the lesser paying hotels don't even know that many hotels do pay full and good.
We do things by the book and don't quite get how Visas can be issued for foreign staff in entry level positions.

Posted by Hotelier2 on January 8, 2013 10:17


There can only be a "skills gap" if there are skills there to start with, there aren't any, it is all on the job training, and I use the word training very lightly. Thailand barely educates its people never mind proving any kind og training, to prepare them for employment.

Posted by Reader on January 8, 2013 14:17


pay peanuts and no or poor benifits you will get monkeys,as theres full employment its a workers market but of the poorly skilled or disinterested economys go in circles this bubble will burst somewhere,how many tuk tuk drivers are phuket locals,supply & demand comes into play we all see the results of saturation there, as they do
to the bubble bursts & the repossessions & foreclosures commence they can only see today have no logic to look into next week.

Posted by slickmelb on July 7, 2013 17:19

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