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Policy to expand sector

The government plans to implement an industrial policy designed to promote development of the manufacturing sector.

Speaking at a business networking dinner prepared by the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations on Wednesday, Sok Chenda Sophea, secretary general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), said the policy will be implemented after the national election to help institute financial, educational and transport reforms with the aim of meeting the demands of a rapidly changing labour market.

“We are exploring mechanisms to resolve the current concerns of human resource development, skilled labour force, as well the access to finance in the manufacturing sector,” he said. “With the industrial policy in hand, I believe that all the challenges that the private sector is facing now will be resolved.”

Cambodia has seen a boost in manufacturing as Japanese and Korean investors seize on the country’s burgeoning automotive and electronics sectors. Analysts say, however, that the country’s skilled labour force and educational capacity still falls short of demand.

Hiroshi Uematsu, managing director of Phnom Penh SEZ, told the Post that “human resources development” remains a major challenge.

A World Bank report released in March last year found Cambodian schools are not turning out enough high-skilled graduates. “Quantity gaps are particularly strong in Cambodia’s manufacturing sector,” said the report.

Hiroshi Suzuki, chief executive of the Business Research Institute for Cambodia, said he has noticed an increase in investment in labour-intensive industries, but he still sees challenges to attracting high-tech investments.

“Because it takes more than 10 years to prepare human resources for high-tech areas, it is necessary for the Cambodian government to start the preparation [now],” Suzuki told the Post on Friday.

Uematsu said training students toward technical management in manufacturing and production processes is a crucial step.

“The improvement of basic education such as mathematics, reading and writing, work ethics, and punctuality makes the foundation of industrialisation stronger,” he said.

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