Thai High-speed Railway Talents Cultivated through “Chinese + Vocational Skills”: “Looking Forward to Realizing Our High-speed Railway Dream Soon”

[Source]    People’s Daily [Time]    2019-11-27 09:17:21 
 


A student of Banphai Industrial and Community Education College simulating train driving in the classroom

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With the development of the China-Thailand rail project, Thailand’s demand for talents who master both railway technology and Chinese has surged. To comply with the trend, the Confucius Institute at KhonKaen University in Thailand has, since 2016, launched Chinese language training under the framework of the China-Thai high-speed railway. The training has cultivated more than 100 railway talents for Thailand. Also, it has promoted China-Thai exchanges and cooperation in vocational training and has become a model of the “Chinese + vocational skills” talents cultivation mode.

Atitan, a young Thai lad, sat in front of the high-speed train simulation system, applied for instructions and started the control system. After slowly pulling out of the garage, the train was automatically driven and moved smoothly along the track. Atitan nudged the joystick and the train began to accelerate, quickly reaching 80 kilometers per hour. He drove through the downtown, through the tunnel and slowly entered the station. Watching the window from time to time, he parked the train right on the marking.

This is what the reporter saw at the Banphai Industrial and Community Education College in northeastern Thailand’s Khonkaen province. As Thailand’s first vocational and technical college to set up a rail transit major, the college has jointly cultivated Thailand’s first batch of high-speed rail talents with the Confucius Institute at KhonKaen University and China’s Wuhan Railway Vocational and Technical College.

Building the College into the Base for Thai Railway Vocational Training

“We have just started to simulate train driving. So far, I haven’t found it too difficult, as I already had some training in China,” said Atitan.

With the development of the China-Thailand rail project, Thailand’s demand for talents who master both railway technology and Chinese has surged. In 2014, China and Thailand jointly launched the education and training program concerning railway-related fields. The Confucius Institute at KhonKaen University in Thailand, giving full play to its advantages, has launched Chinese language training under the framework of the China-Thai high-speed railway to cultivate talents for Thailand’s high-speed railway project.

At the end of 2017, the construction of a high-speed railway linking Bangkok with Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand’s first high-speed railway, which has used Chinese technology, began. As part of the China-Thailand railway which was under construction, the Bangkok–Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed railway, after its completion, will serve as a major road route linking China and Thailand. During the same year, Atitan, a young fellow from Thailand’s northeastern Nakhon Ratchasima province, and other students set out from their hometown to participate in the China-Thailand High-Speed Railway and Chinese Training Program, in an effort to learn Chinese and technologies related to high-speed rail.

Atitan and other students in the program received training in Chinese language at the Confucius Institute at KhonKaen University, and then went on to study in China for a few months. After that, they entered relevant vocational schools to learn high-speed rail expertise. Chinese language training under the framework of the China-Thai high-speed railway has been held for four sessions since 2016. It has cultivated more than 100 railway talents for Thailand. The training has promoted China-Thai cooperation in vocational training and has become a model of the “Chinese + vocational skills” talent cultivation mode, according to Hu Lin, Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute at KhonKaen University.

Students who participate in the program can receive an academic certificate that is accepted by both countries. China has provided training and facilities for Banphai Industrial and Community Education College, making its hardware facilities lead the top table among vocational colleges in Thailand. Government officials and personnel of other vocational education schools have frequently visited Banphai Industrial and Community Education College, said Junyar Pabu, Director of Banphai Industrial and Community Education College, disclosing that the college will be built into the base for railway vocational training in Thailand.

Providing Talents for Future China-Thailand Railway Construction

“It moves smoothly. I can barely feel the train is moving though in fact it is moving at a high speed,” said 20-year-old Thanaphat. When studying in Wuhan, Thanaphat and other students participated in the program took the Chinese high-speed rail for the first time. After returning to Thailand, they often think of the feeling when taking the high-speed rail. “The Train in Thailand runs only 50 kilometers per hour, which is far from the Chinese high-speed rail. I hope Thailand can have the same high-speed rail as China as soon as possible to boost Thailand’s development.”

Like Thanaphat, Vichai, who went to China to learn high-speed rail technology, has opened a new chapter for his life. It was the first time that the young boy who came out of the rural area in northeastern Thailand, went abroad, thanks to the China-Thailand high-speed rail program. “I hope that we can realize our high-speed rail dream soon. I look forward to becoming a high-speed rail driver in the future, contributing my wisdom and strength to Thailand’s high-speed rail development,” Vichai told People’s Daily.

“Banphai Industrial and Community Education College had systematic and standard railway courses after cooperation with China. The number of railway-related majors has increased from 6 to more than 30, covering various aspects of rail transit. The college is not only a base for rail transit technologies and skills training in Thailand, but has also become a pioneer of rail transit vocational education in Thailand. The college will provide talents for the construction of the China-Thai high-speed railway in the future,” said Junyar Pabu proudly.

Looking forward to further expanding cooperation with Chinese partners

Thailand is seeing intensified efforts to develop rail transportation. Apart from the Bangkok–Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed railway under construction, Bangkok’s light rail and subway have successively opened several extension lines, and the high-speed railway project connecting the three airports in the city has completed the tender. Chayathan Promsorn, Deputy Director of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP) of Thailand’s Ministry of Transport, stressed that the current railway logistics in Thailand only accounts for about 1.4 percent of the total. Thailand has drawn up a draft of 20-Year Transportation Development Strategy. The country plans to build more multi-line railways and joint transportation points at an early date to increase the proportion of railway logistics, thus reducing transportation costs.

Currently, several key projects boosting connectivity between China and Thailand are gaining momentum. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha pointed out that the China-Thai high-speed railway is of great strategic importance for promoting infrastructure connectivity and development in Thailand. Besides boosting economic growth, the railway will also play an essential role in facilitating connectivity between China and ASEAN, said Prayuth, noting that “Thailand firmly supports the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The joint construction of the BRI has generated huge benefits for Thailand’s development and the cooperation between China and Thailand. We are looking forward to further expanding cooperation with our Chinese partners.”

With the integration of the Thailand 4.0 policy, Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor, and the BRI, more Thai vocational and technical schools hope to enhance cooperation with the Chinese side. Relevant Chinese vocational schools are seeing in-depth cooperation with Thai vocational schools in areas with advanced productivity and technologies including high-speed rail transit, artificial intelligence, and mechatronics, thus sharing advanced standards, quality courses, teaching materials, teachers, and facilities, and carrying out localized degree courses and vocational training.

These projects conform to the joint efforts of both countries to cultivate professional and technical personnel, and have won strong support from the governments of the two countries, said Thai official Santi. “We are grateful to the support from the Confucius Institute and relevant Chinese schools for Thailand’s endeavor to cultivate high-speed railway talents. It will help more Thai young people achieve success at an early date,” Santi added.

(Story and photo by Sun Guangyong, People’s Daily, Page 16, November 20th, 2019)

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