Thai hospitality industry struggles to find workers to fill 1.45 million jobs lost
during the pandemic with many unwilling to return to the industry
BANGKOK The pandemic changed everything. It has been an accelerator but also a major change-maker for Thai service workers retrenched or “paused” during the three-years Covid crippled Thailand’s hospitality industry. Many who left the sector are now in great demand to return but there is a reluctance to do so on as the sector has simply not moved on – while the digital economy has exploded.
The immediate need of qualified hospitality staff in the country’s tourism sector, which has already achieved over 10 million foreign traveler arrivals this year and is forecasting double that amount in 2023 is a clear and present danger for Thailand’s economic recovery.
Superapps like GRAB and foodpanda have changed how many people live and work – and it’s finally been recognized by the hotel industry courtesy of SAIJAI, a digital homecare platform, that has launched SAIJAI Hospitality Staffing enabling workers the flexibility to return to the industry not as the commodities they were before, but on their own terms and in a part-time capacity.
SAIJAI, which was founded during the Covid crisis, took the opportunity to identify a key gap in Thailand’s labor market. Senior managers and business owners were suddenly able to shift to online tools in a ‘Zoom Boom’ that allowed them to work-from-home and manage the emerging challenges of being a working or single parent. Yet, a glaring disconnect occurred at the heart of the sizable Thai workforce which was largely excluded from these opportunities.
SAIJAI’s Co-Founder 28-year-old Viona Zhang, said: “Covid accelerated what was going to happen anyway, as the country has been shifting into a Western-style economy steadily over the past decade. But it has also resulted in perfect storm with rising inflation and a spiraling number of workers who are needed – but who are not attracted to service-type jobs.”
Thailand has 20 million informal workers according to the Thailand’s National Statistics Office (NSO), a segment which accounts for nearly half of the nation’s total workforce. It is this sector that was the backbone of a hospitality industry rising once again – but lacking in manpower.
The dynamics of the market during Covid changed. Dual income households, often with children and aging parents needed additional help on short term notice. This need moved SAIJAI to create a part-time platform that provided in-home services for childcare, elderly, maids, drivers, handymen, pets and even beauty and learning. It is now turning its attention to the hospitality industry with the launch of SAIJAI Hospitality Staffing which taps into its base of service workers who come from a hotel, tourism or restaurant background.
Zhang adds: “There were 1.45 million Thai hospitality workers according to the Tourism Council of Thailand who lost their jobs during the pandemic. Many are unwilling or unable to return fulltime to the sector, but our online platform is able to enable service workers to manage their own schedules, meet family or educational time constraints and offer them a better future.
Hospitality is a human endeavor and our social mission is one we take very seriously. We are in the process of adding low-cost health insurance access to all our partners, a SAIJAI Online Training Academy is in the works, with upskilling and life-learning as key priorities. Our approach is that a dynamic shift to part-time work is inevitable and needs to be embraced. Our platform does exactly that.”