German-Thai continuing professional development programme: New knowledge geared to the expansion of renewable energy

Eight engineers from a Thai energy supplier took part in an unusual type of continuing professional development scheme: they spent six and a half months in German companies in Germany to acquire expertise needed to drive forward renewable energy, energy efficiency and smart power grids. Project manager Pedro Pacheco from GIZ’s Academy for International Cooperation explains the background to this extraordinary programme.

Mr. Pacheco, when Thai electricity suppliers think about continuing professional development, they do not usually hit upon the idea of doing it in Germany - and certainly not for over six months. How did this scheme come about?

Of course, it was not a coincidence. The electricity provider Provincial Electricity Authority, PEA for short, has been working for quite some time with the Academy for International Cooperation (AIZ) , which also has a branch in Bangkok. The personal contacts and positive experience with previous training sessions ultimately led PEA to commission the Academy to deliver this professional development programme for eight engineers in Germany. In addition, of course, we tailored the programme very closely to PEA’s needs.

Pedro Pacheco Sanchez

What is so special about the training programme?

It is the mix of different modules to form a successful overall package that is its unique feature. On the one hand, AIZ delivers comprehensive expertise in management, leadership and intercultural project management. On the other hand, TÜV Academy Berlin provides technical training on topics such as energy supply, energy efficiency in the building and industrial sectors, and smart power grids and their networking.

The third core module is about on-the-job training: the engineers do four-month internships in German companies, where they have the opportunity to work with energy experts, exchange ideas, establish networks, bring their specialist knowledge into everyday practice in Germany, and get to know the German energy market. 

A six-month training course is a major investment. How do you ensure that this is worthwhile for the Thai client?

The structure of the programme ensures that the new knowledge is not confined to the minds of the participants. On the contrary, they learn how to transfer their newly acquired knowledge into their company in Thailand. There they are able to pass it on to many people and use it in other contexts so that it is disseminated widely and can act as a catalyst for change.

Furthermore, the participants take home more than just new knowledge: an exchange with other energy experts is also part of their stay in Germany and they are able to make use of this networking after their return. The participants also developed and prepared concrete project ideas during their time with the German companies with the aim of implementing them in Thailand at a later date. An example of this involved planning and installing a photovoltaic system on the roof of the Thai company. 

And what do the German companies gain from the programme?

For one thing, learning is never a one-way street. Although it is mainly the Thai engineer who experiences new things, the German companies also benefit from the four-month cooperation. Ideas and experience from Thailand are also interesting for them. Furthermore, opportunities for future cooperation between them and the Thai energy supplier PEA have already opened up.

Further information and a video with participant Chakrit Chaiyawuttaparuk can be found here