Vocational school graduates have enjoyed the highest increases in salary since last year's hike in the daily minimum wage due mainly to high demand for such workers in the industrial sector, according to a recent survey.Jointly conducted by the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) and Sripatum University (SPU), the survey found vocational school graduates with no experience received a 28.5% pay rise on average after last April 1, when the daily minimum wage was lifted to 300 baht in seven provinces.
That next highest rises were for vocational high school graduates (21.4%) and undergraduates (4.55%).
Prior to April 2012, nationwide increases in the daily minimum wage for undergraduates were higher than those for vocational school graduates, said Praphan Chaikidurajai, the director of SPU's Master of Science in human resource management programme.
"This trend will continue until 2015, when the minimum wage policy ends. After that, the private sector will lower the increase of minimum wages for vocational school graduates and start to increase wages for undergraduates if they have the capability to do so," he said.
Conducted from April to June last year, the survey on salary and compensation involved 343 businesses from 23 industrial sectors.
On Jan 1, the minimum wage was raised to 300 baht nationwide.
During the survey, the minimum salary for vocational school graduates averaged 8,934 baht, while it was 9,718 baht for vocational high-school graduates, 12,863 baht for undergraduates, 18,560 baht for master's-degree graduates and 28,468 for doctoral graduates.
Wages for undergraduates were the lowest in the agricultural sector at 11,867 baht, while engineering received the highest at 15,588 baht.
Pongdej Sriwachirapradit, a vice-chairman of the board of the FTI's Human Capacity Building Institute, said the industrial sector in general is able to adapt to the minimum wage increase.
"The only thing we [businesses] can do is just pay [according to the government's policy] or else relocate to other countries where labour costs are cheaper, especially for labour-intensive businesses in which 40% of costs are attributed to labour," he said.
Mr Praphan said many Cambodian workers will be able to replace Myanmar workers who return home to serve their country's improving economy and infrastructure projects.
At the time of the survey, average daily wages in the region were: Singapore (US$61.7), the Philippines ($9.70), Thailand ($9.60), Malaysia ($8.40), Indonesia ($5), Laos ($3), Vietnam ($2.50) and Cambodia ($2).