Long beset by low-paying jobs and a lack of skilled labour, Cambodia launched its first national policy for employment last week in an attempt to provide better employment opportunities for its people.
The 13-page document, which took five years to draft, aims to improve the productivity of Cambodia’s labour force so it can lessen its reliance on low-margin sectors such as garments and agriculture.
“This policy will contribute to achieving a sustainable growth, improving livelihoods and promoting social harmony through decent and productive employment for all,” said Prime Minister Hun Sen, who unveiled the policy on Thursday at the Presidential Palace in Phnom Penh.
The policy aims to improve the current state of affairs by increasing opportunities for good work, improving skills in the workforce and enhancing labour relations.
To accomplish these measures, it suggests a wide range of propositions, such as increasing investment in vocational training, improving the registration of small businesses, supporting job centres and strengthening labour inspections.
It also floated the possibility of creating some programs that would be new to Cambodia, such as a national scheme for unemployment benefits.
The policy, which will run from this year to 2025, was welcomed by the International Labour Organization (ILO), which supported it during its drafting process.
“It focuses on decent work and economic growth and places job creation at the heart of economic policy-making and the national development strategy,” said Maurizio Bussi, head of the ILO country office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR, in a statement.
The new policy was also welcomed by one union in the garment sector, Cambodia’s largest export earner.
“I support the policy as it will give more chances for garment workers to get clear skills and experience with their work,” said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.
However, Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, said that while he thought the policy was a good move, it had a lot of ground to cover.
“Human resources in Cambodia move to Thailand because they expect higher pay and better conditions there, [causing] a shortage,” he said.
“I just came back from Banteay Meanchey [province] where we asked people about job opportunities in the country, but they had no idea about job centres or employment policy.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MOM KUNTHEAR