CAMBODIAN workers lack sufficient skills and qualifications to work overseas in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan or Canada, Oum Mean, secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour, told Work Week, referring to four countries that have been targeted for export labour under the ministry's 2008 strategic plan.
"Right now, it's not possible for us to dispatch guest workers to these countries, but we are studying the possibility of training our workers to improve their skills and meet the market demands for workers in these countries," Oum Mean said.
Sok Chanpheakdey, director of Philimore Cambodia - which trains and exports labourers - said Tuesday that it was difficult to train workers to meet the high skills requirements of these target countries. Existing training programs of only one month were inadequate to give workers the language, computer and other skills they would need.
"I think that, in the short term, Cambodia will be unable to dispatch workers to these countries because the government has not prepared qualified vocational schools," said Sok Chanpheakdey. "But in the long term, it will be possible."
Currently, Cambodia exports only low-skilled workers such as domestic workers, agricultural and fisheries workers and factory workers to Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea.
The labour ministry reports that the Kingdom has exported 52,414 workers to Thailand this year, 10,532 to Malaysia, and just 4,038 to South Korea. The ministry was also developing plans to export additional workers to Kuwait and Qatar if the needed skill levels can be met.
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An recently appealed to vocational training institutions to orientate their training programs to the requirements of these overseas labour markets.
If Cambodians were qualified to work in Singapore and Hong Kong, they could earn up to US$300 a month in domestic work, while in Japan and Canada, they could earn $1,500 a month in light industrial work, said Sok Chanpheakdey.
According to Philimore Cambodia, monthly wages for Cambodians in domestic work in Malaysia were $170 to $250. In Thailand, factory workers were earning an average of about $180, while agricultural guest workers in South Korea were earning $600 to $1,200 per month.