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Cambodia gets low marks in ‘human capital’ report

Cambodian men ride a trailer loaded with Buddhist altars for sale on the main road in Seam Reap on August 19. The Kingdom ranks last in the region in educating and training its citizens, according to an annual report by the World Economic Forum.
Cambodian men ride a trailer loaded with Buddhist altars for sale on the main road in Seam Reap on August 19. The Kingdom ranks last in the region in educating and training its citizens, according to an annual report by the World Economic Forum. Roberto Schmidt/AFP

Cambodia gets low marks in ‘human capital’ report

A recent report by the World Economic Forum underscored the Kingdom’s poor performance in educating and training its citizens in order to develop a competitive workforce and put their skills to productive use, ranking it for the first time in its annual review as the worst in Asean.

Cambodia ranked 92nd out of 130 countries in terms of human capital development, up from 100 last year, showing that the country had improved globally but at the same time fell further behind its regional peers, according to the Global Human Capital Report 2017. The ranking puts Cambodia ahead of the Dominican Republic but behind Botswana, which ranked 93rd and 91st, respectively.

Meanwhile, Myanmar, which scored 109th in 2016, improved to a score of 90th this year as Laos also made significant progress, improving from 106th to 84th.

“How nations develop their human capital can be a more important determinant of their long-term success than virtually any other factor,” the report’s authors noted. “[Human capital] can be enhanced over time, growing through use – and depreciating through lack of use – across people’s lifetimes.”

Published annually, the Global Human Capital Report index ranks countries on how well they are developing and deploying their human capital for the demands of a globally competitive economy that is becoming increasing interconnected.

According to the report, the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is affecting all industries, reshaping production and consumption, while adding urgency to nations to upgrade its human capital scores.

“All too often however, human potential is not realised, held back either by inequality or an unrealistic and outdated faith on the part of policymakers that investment in small sub sections of highly skilled labour alone can drive sustainable, inclusive growth,” WEF founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said in the report’s preface.

“Managing this transition towards deeper investment in human potential within the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is one of the most important political, societal, economic and moral challenges we are facing today,” he added.

This year’s report was structured on 21 unique indicators and 44 distinct data points that gauge education and job skill levels as well as economic participation. Cambodia’s ranking improved by eight notches compared with last year, but the country still ranked the worst in the region.

Cambodia’s continually low ranking reflects ongoing deficiencies in the country’s capacity to have a credible education system, with the poorest performance assigned to its 15-24 age bracket, which scored an average 99th out of 130 overall.

On the positive side, Cambodia performed well on the deployment indicator of the report that includes labour force participation, the employment gender gap and the underemployment and unemployed rate, with an overall ranking of fourth best in the world.

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