April 05, 2017

Lao automotive industry in need of more technicians

By:  Vientiane Times, April 03, 2017

Laos needs more than 500 automotive technicians each year to satisfy auto industry growth, according to suppliers.

Saithong, a teacher at the Automotive Technology office of the Lao-German Technical School (LGTS), said recently that Laos could supply only about 200 automotive technicians annually, most of whom were graduates from the LGTS.

Laos continues to import vehicles while economic growth is expected to reach 7 per cent by the end of the year, according to the World Bank’s latest update of the “Lao Economic Monitor 2016”.

This is likely to encourage consumers to continue to buy vehicles, which should in turn bolster the need for more automotive technicians to stabilise the country’s auto industry growth.

Saithong said the automotive technicians that supply the industry were not covering even 50 per cent of current demand.

The industry’s imported-vehicle growth has been up 10-15 per cent every year since 2013, according to the Department of Public Works and Transport.

The number of vehicles in Laos increased by about 8 per cent in 2015 compared to 2014, from 1,577,184 to 1,717,504 vehicles, which comprised 1,326,868 motorcycles, 337,449 cars and 53,187 trucks.

Vientiane has the largest number of vehicle imports at 721,882, followed by Savannakhet province at 273,279 and Champassak province with 145,289 vehicles.

Saithong said it would be a big challenge for vocational schools to provide enough automotive students to meet current demand.

Officials from the Ministry of Education and Sports suggest that some automotive companies are cooperating with vocational schools with the aim of increasing the number of mechanics working for these companies after they have graduated.

For example, the Kolao Group has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Lao-Korean Labour Development Institute to train its students to meet the group’s industry needs.

The Ministry of Education and Sports is also cooperating with other automotive companies to stress the importance of young people learning appropriate vocational subjects, in an attempt to get them interested in increasing the number of automotive technician schools and both the quantity and quality of their graduates.

Officials have stressed that this would play a vital part in creating confidence in foreign companies to further expand their auto businesses in Laos, where a young labour force comprises 50 per cent of the population.

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