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Young Cambodians’ perspective toward the job market

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Are you preparing yourself for today’s highly competitive job market? While the working environment is always competitive, the job market is even more so, requiring candidates to have high levels of knowledge and skill. Therefore, young Cambodians need to sharpen their abilities and creativity. 

Nowadays, in order to find an appropriate job, people must at least have a basic education plus some knowledge of English and technology. As foreigners who come to work and invest in our country usually already have these qualifications, employers seem to turn their attention toward them.

If we examine the job environment, we see that in a big company or organisation, foreign staffers are necessary and mostly are selected for higher positions and salaries. Meanwhile, some Cambodians face challenges to reach the same positions due to limited education, confidence and creativity. So what are the differences between the perspectives of Cambodian and foreign staff toward work?

Dominic Sharpe is an Australian who has worked in Cambodia for eight years. Deputy director at LIGER Charitable Foundation, Dominic says that Cambodians’ perspectives differ from foreigners’ in term of challenging and promoting themselves in the workplace.

“Self-promotion is very crucial for young Cambodians.  It is the only way to push themselves to higher positions in their workplaces,” he says.

Keo Navin, a staff at a Phnom Penh-based organisation, has been working for seven years, under both Cambodian and foreign bosses. She says she prefers working with foreign bosses since they are more creative and have high levels of knowledge.

“Mostly, those people (foreign bosses) try to have fun with their staff and colleagues. I do not feel bored at work and neither do the other staffers, so we have a productive result,” Keo Navin says.

She points out that most foreign bosses treat their employees equally and so are able to retain their employees for longer periods of time. Foreign bosses are also more open, adds Keo Navin, so subordinates dare to raise ideas to improve the company or NGO.

“Foreign bosses are serious but they never put pressure on their staff,” she says, “They always encourage, promote and appreciate their employees, if one of them does a good job.”

Most owners of companies that deal with technology, usually consider foreigners as well-qualified to work for them. Besides ability and knowledge, employers like their flexibility, confidence and commitment to reaching goals.  

Export director of Lotus Pond Eng Sou Mala, 23, has foreign colleagues. She says the expatriate staffers always take things seriously and do not procrastinate, unlike some young Cambodians. She adds that they (foreign staff) like finding out new ways to improve their abilities.

“Some Cambodian workers seem to ignore this because they think they already know how to do things. Therefore, they think they do not need to learn more,” she says.

As a result of what she has learned from her foreign colleagues, she tries to work well and fast to show her effectiveness.

“If my boss gives me work for one week, I have to finish and submit it before the deadline so that my work is recognised,” she says.

However, the new Cambodian generation is progressing, says Dominic. They are getting braver in terms of promoting themselves to do work they are interested in, unlike in the past.

He suggests that Cambodian youths learn more about communication and networking in order to reach work goals. In addition, they should not always commit to working with foreigners, rather they should first find jobs that shape their skills and abilities.

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