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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Job shortage looms as workforce expands

Job shortage looms as workforce expands


Young women will be the most affected by a lack of employment options, according to a new government survey of Cambodia’s growing labour force


In the countryside, handicrafts are among the few employment options for young women.

Cambodia needs to create between 250,000 and 275,000 jobs over the next four years to absorb Cambodia's growing labour force and take aggressive measures to integrate young women into the workforce, according to a report by the Ministry of Women's Affairs published last Friday.

The report said the number of people in the workforce in Cambodia, which includes those in jobs and those available to work, increased from four million in 1994 to 7.5 million in 2004. Between 2001 and 2004 alone, the workforce grew by 19 percent. In the capital city, it grew by 53 percent over the period.

Women make up around 49 percent of the labour force and 71 percent of women older than 14 contribute to the economy, the report showed, more than in Thailand, Laos and Indonesia, and just slightly less than in Vietnam and China.

However, employment opportunities for the masses of young women expected to enter the job market over the next few years look slim, it warned.

The labour market continues to be heavily segregated by gender, with women working mainly in the trade and handicraft sectors and men in the construction and communication sectors and as unskilled labourers.

In the countryside, farming, handicrafts and the selling of produce are almost the only career options for women.

Jobs for girls

The ministry is planning to work with the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy to boost the number of job opportunities for women.

It has announced a strategic plan to develop skills and self-confidence among women entrepreneurs in the informal sector and encourage them to register their businesses. It also plans to stimulate business through micro-credit injections and improve access to news and information about boosting productivity and accessing services.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative Alice Levisay said Cambodia's strong commitment to gender equality and support from international partners and NGOs means the country is in a good position to improve living conditions among girls and women.

 Cambodia's young demographic skew was also highlighted. Around 44 percent of the work force is under 25.



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