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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Poor skills costing locals top factory jobs

Poor skills costing locals top factory jobs

The absence of Cambodians in middle- and senior-management factory

positions represents missed employment opportunities and an obstacle to

productivity, industry monitors say.

Last month, four local universities announced plans to introduce

courses designed to produce factory supervisors in a bid to remedy the

situation, although foreigners currently hold the overwhelming majority

of factory management and supervisory positions – roles few Cambodians

have been trained to take on.

“There are over 5,000 expats working in management positions,” said

Tuomo Poutiainen, the chief technical advisor for the International

Labor Organization’s Better Factories program, backing up a 2007 study

by HR Inc. that found that only 15-20 percent of middle management

positions in the garment sector were held by Cambodians.

However, Cambodians could easily fill some management roles if they were given sufficient training, Poutiainen said.

Tep Mona, director of the Garment Industry Productivity Center (GIPC),

said “most factories are very willing to hire capable Cambodians but,

lacking education and appropriate work experience, Cambodians with

suitable skills have been difficult to find.”

According to a report commissioned by American aid agency USAID, which

started and funds the GIPC, “the presence of more Cambodians in line

supervisory and management roles helps motivate workers to higher

productivity.”

Mona said having foreigners hold the majority of management positions

risked hampering the transmission of knowledge to Cambodian workers

because of language and cultural barriers.

It also is a source of many of the labor disputes that frequently

disrupt production, labor union officials say, adding that foreign

factory managers often do not know how to relate to their Cambodian

workers.

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