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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Huge and growing shortage of jobs for young people

Huge and growing shortage of jobs for young people

There is a huge and growing shortage of jobs for young Cambodians. Although there

is no accurate data available, the World Bank estimates that 200,000 more young Cambodian

become jobless every year.

According to Ok Serei Sopheak, an independent democracy consultant, nearly 30,000

of these are from higher educational institutions. "Some are graduates looking

for work, others are looking for work to fund their continued studies. The figure

seems very high, but it is my best estimate after consulting a number of NGOs working

in this field," he said.

He was also concerned that 60 percent of the country's youth currently depend on

farming for paid employment or food.

"The lack of farmed land forces them to move to the city to look for work,"

he said.

That situation could lead to political problems. "Without jobs, there will not

be peace in the society," he said.

Sopheak believed that youth problems would be a hot issue in the campaign for the

2008 national elections.

According to World Bank figures, around 70 percent of the 13 million resident population

are under the age of 29 .

"The youth of this country must make the government realize the scale of this

problem," Sopheak said.

Seventy students from several universities in Phnom Penh met with the local youth

associations on July 3 to discuss the problem.

The Khmer Youth Camping for Culture (KYCC), Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP)

and the World Bank shared Sopheak's fears that youth unemployment could lead to problems,

mentioning more unrest and crime as possible results.

YRDP executive director Cheang Sokha and KYCC-representative Chhoun Borith said they

have been working together to get youth issues on the new government's agenda.

Sokha said the government's efforts to reduce poverty would fail as long as unemployment

was on the rise.

"Some government officials who are old enough to retire keep the jobs that could

be employing young people," he said.

Mu Sochua, former Minister of Women's and Veterans Affairs, told the Post that the

government has been trying to create 300,000 new jobs every year but only reached

16 percent of the target.

She said Funcinpec would be responsible for labor issues in the new coalition government

and that Funcinpec president Prince Norodom Ranariddh had promised to encourage skill

training for young people.

Sokha also said that the new coalition government must take measures to increase

investor confidence in government policies.

The World Bank had stated it would develop a framework to increase private investments

in Cambodia over the next four years.

"Improving the private sector it is a way of providing job opportunities,"

the WB said. "We need to establish and encourage ways to involve youth more

in the decisions that affect the country's future role in addressing corruption,

and improving governance."

Sopheak said the private sector in Cambodia was not yet strong enough to respond

to the job demands.

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