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Gov’t moves on skills shortage

A mechanic fixes a bike in Phnom Penh
A mechanic fixes a bike in Phnom Penh yesterday. Government officials have confirmed the development of a National Employment Policy. Pha Lina

Gov’t moves on skills shortage

Government officials have confirmed the development of a National Employment Policy aimed at solving the Kingdom’s jobs mismatch issue, which continues to starve skills-based industries, such a mechanical and electrical engineering, of qualified graduates.

Heng Sour, spokesman for the Ministry of Labour and Vocational training told the Post on Friday that a draft version of the policy is expected to be approved by the end of this year.

The policy will demand a more thorough government-backed jobs market analysis in order to identify industries in need of qualified job seekers and tertiary graduates.

“The purpose of this policy is to provide timely information about the job market to inter-ministry departments,” Sour said, adding that a draft version of the National Employment Policy has already been completed and is awaiting final approval before being forwarded to the National Assembly.

“Working with the private sector, the policy also aims to develop training and education services that help students respond to and fulfil the jobs needed in Cambodia’s economy. As planned, we want it to be approved by next year,” he said.

Sour said in the absence of such a policy, government efforts to combat Cambodia’s jobs mismatch and skills shortage issue continue to be ineffective and fragmented.

“Without this policy, it is harder to set out an efficient work plan for inter-ministry (such as MoEF, MoEYS and MoC) committees to work together to boost economic growth,” he said.

The skills shortage continues to be a major hurdle for Cambodian business. Just last week, the World Bank released its 2014 Investment Climate Assessment for Cambodia. A lack of skilled labour in manufacturing industries was named as key constraint hampering the Kingdom’s ability to increase production power and access value-added supply chains in the Southeast Asian region.

Seng Bun Thoeun, vice rector of the National University of Management (NUM), similarly said he supported the establishment of a new National Employment Policy as a tool to assist Cambodia penetrate those value chains and hopefully remain competitive after the 2015 Asean Economic Community intergration.

Thoeun added, however, that a simple policy alone would not be enough to solve job mismatch issue.

“The policy will help better inform students about what is needed in the job markets, but the policy will not force students to study what they do not like to,” he said.

“If you want students to study agriculture, then you have to make agriculture an advanced sector. If you want students to study more on technical skills, show them the sector is improving. You cannot just want students to study in those fields which are not really improved,” Thoeun said.

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