Denis Gambade, general manager of the Franco-Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, aims to have “everybody involved in employment in Cambodia,” including universities, companies, recruiters, and human resources firms, attending the June 14-15 Career Forum at Phnom Penh’s Mondial Center.
More than 10,000 people are expected to pass through the doors of Phnom Penh’s Mondial Center on June 14 and 15 for what organizers are calling the largest jobs fair ever to be held in Cambodia.
The Career Forum, now in its fourth year, has been designed for all sectors of the Cambodian employment market – from fresh graduates to multinational corporations.
“Over two days, we will have everybody involved in employment in Cambodia: universities, private schools, recruiters, companies and human resources companies,” said Denis Gambade, general manager of the Franco-Cambodian Chamber of Commerce (CCFC), which is funding and organizing the event.
“The job market now is much more developed than it used to be a few years ago.”
The Career Forum – Cambodia’s first and only jobs fair – was first organized by the CCFC in 2005 in response to the private sector’s growing demand for high-quality recruits.
“One of the most difficult things for new companies in Cambodia was the hiring of staff. There was very little transparency in the job market,” said Gambade.
“There was a need to receive more information about training structures and to get in better contact with people who were looking for jobs.”
Following four years of economic growth, attendance for the CCFC Career Forum has risen dramatically. The inaugural Forum in 2005 attracted 1,500 visitors, a figure which rose from 4,000 in 2006 to over 10,000 last year.
In 2008, more than 50 companies – including ANZ Royal, KPMG, Coca-Cola and British American Tobacco – will be looking to hire Cambodia’s best and brightest job seekers, and Gambade expects the Forum to cement itself as a key annual meeting ground for employees and employers in Cambodia.
“There are some companies coming this year that have 50 to 80 staff to recruit, that’s why they come to the forum. Some have huge recruitment plans,” he said.
“We are seeing the benefits of economic growth in Cambodia.”
According to Suy Sokha, a recruitment consultant at local human resources firm HR Inc., the Career Forum will benefit people in that it “will bring employees and employers together.”
“Employees will be able to meet prospective employers face to face, which doesn’t happen very often … and employers will be exposed to a wide variety of fresh graduates,” Sokha said.
She added that the forum will help to build on the work of human resources companies such as HR Inc., by educating job hunters and employers about what the other is looking for.
“Employers, especially those from outside the country, sometimes expect a lot of Cambodian employees,” Sokha said.
Although HR Inc. estimates that Cambodia’s universities are turning out about 20,000 students each year, aligning the skills of new graduates with the needs of employers has emerged as a key challenge.
“It’s all about quality,” said Gambade. “Some employers cannot find the quality that they want. The idea of a career itself is still to be developed in Cambodia. I’m not sure they (young Cambodians) have a very clear idea of how to manage their career development.”
To bridge this gap in expectations, Gambade said he sees the Career Forum widening to include closer relationships with Cambodia’s educational institutions in the years to come.
Already, the CCFC has established 14 partnerships with universities and vocational training schools throughout Phnom Penh, offering a program of Khmer-language seminars on job hunting and application skills.
“This is a very good basis for the development of these kinds of activities next year,” said Gambade. “Now that [the Forum] is a well-established rendezvous, we’ll have to see how we can develop it further.”
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