Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kingdom scores low on human capital index

Kingdom scores low on human capital index

Students study at Wat Koh high school in Phnom Penh in 2014.
Students study at Wat Koh high school in Phnom Penh in 2014. Pha Lina

Kingdom scores low on human capital index

A report released yesterday by the World Economic Forum (WEF) underscores Cambodia’s poor performance at educating and training its citizens in order to develop a competitive workforce and put their skills to productive use.

The Kingdom ranked 100th out of 130 countries in terms of human capital development, well below most of its regional peers, according to the Human Capital Report 2016.

“A nation’s human capital endowment – the knowledge and skills embodied in individuals that enable them to create economic value – can be a more important determinant of its long-term success than virtually any other resource,” the report’s authors noted.

Published annually, the Human Capital Report ranks countries on how well they are developing and deploying their human capital for the demands of a constantly changing and globally competitive economy.

According to the report, a looming “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is creating seismic shifts that are affecting all industries, reshaping production, consumption and other economic factors.

“The very nature of work is changing, in part due to new technologies and their subsequent impact on business models, and in part because of new platforms that allow talent to connect to markets in wholly new ways,” WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab said in the report’s preface.

“The development of relevant talent will determine whether we all partake in the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution or experience its disruptions as bystanders.”

This year’s report – structured on 46 indicators that gauge education and job skill levels as well as economic participation – saw Cambodia’s ranking drop three notches to 100. The Kingdom scored far below most other ASEAN countries, with only Laos and Myanmar ranked lower, at 106th and 109th, respectively.

Cambodia’s low ranking reflects deficiencies in the country’s education system, with the poorest performance assigned to its 15-24 age bracket, which scored 109th overall.

While not a direct correlation, countries with the lowest proportion of GDP spent on education tend to score lower in the rankings. According to the World Bank, Cambodia spends about 2.6 per cent of GDP on education, the lowest among ASEAN countries excluding Myanmar.

For employers, the Kingdom’s low level of education and vocational training can make hiring a challenge. Local recruitment agencies and online job portals say that while many Cambodian job applicants have management skills, they often lack the technical skills that employers are seeking.

“There is still a lot that needs to be developed,” said Gijs Braakman, business development manager at Everjobs Cambodia. “Both hard and soft skills are missing . . . especially IT knowledge – from [software] skills to coding capabilities – which are skills demanded by employers in Cambodia and outside.”

One positive, he said, was that while the level of English could be improved, Cambodian job seekers exhibit a higher overall competence compared to neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam, ranked 48th and 68th, respectively.

However, the relatively low level of hard skills may be discouraging international employers from recruiting here.

“ASEAN regional integration has a lot of potential, but so far not a lot of demand from outside Cambodia [to recruit from its] workforce,” Braakman said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants