Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Labour will face threats from tech, says ADB

Labour will face threats from tech, says ADB

An employee works at a garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district in 2014.
An employee works at a garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district in 2014. Vireak Mai

Labour will face threats from tech, says ADB

Experts from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) warned of disruption in the labour market due to technological advances at the bank’s annual meeting in Manila on Thursday, though officials also noted that Cambodia had several programs in place to help mitigate any negative consequences.

Elisabetta Gentile, an economist at the ADB, said technological advances like automation would require workers to acquire new skills in order to stay competitive in the future.

“We have to help [workers] for this transition, in order to contribute to economic growth in the country,” she said.

Cambodia’s government is vocally supportive of such a transition, although it remains to be seen whether the significant investment required to retrain the workforce will be forthcoming.

“It is a real challenge that we will face in the next decade,” said Heng Sour, a spokesman for the Labour Ministry. “We need to move from the labour-intensive [work] to a more knowledge-based industry, and train our workforce to cope with that challenge.”

The ADB has proposed several projects in Cambodia that seek to develop the country’s workforce, including a $60 million project that focuses on educating workers, with the goal of transforming Cambodia’s economy from labour-based to skills-based by 2025.

The bank has also funded a technical and vocational training program, as well as an expansion of secondary education in the country.

According to Gentile, Cambodia has time to make such a transition, but the preparation work should being now.

“We have to start working today to build the skills that workers in all of developing Asia will need to seize the opportunities new technologies offer,” she wrote in an email, adding that at the same time, governments should boost social safety nets for workers.

“Governments in developing Asia should ensure that workers are protected from the downside of new technologies, and able to harness the new opportunities they provide.”

Note: The Asian Development Bank funded travel and lodging expenses associated with this story. They had no influence in the reporting or editing process.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh authorities ban march for Human Rights Day

    Phnom Penh authorities have banned a planned march as local NGOs and workers’ unions gear up to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Monday, with a youth group leader saying they would march nonetheless. The UN

  • Phnom Penh’s Jet’s Container Night Market shuts down

    The famous Jet’s Container Night Market in central Phnom Penh has shut down due to the high cost of the land rental, company representatives claim. Jet’s Container Night Market is the largest such market in Phnom Penh. It operated for just over two

  • Hun Sen rejects ‘rift’ rumours spread by ‘stupid gangsters’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday denied a “rift” among top leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), and rejected claims that Senate president Say Chhum and Interior Minister Sar Kheng were set to be removed from their positions as rumours spread by “gangsters”.

  • EU ambassador to Cambodia: Rights a ‘work in progress’

    The EU ambassador to Cambodia has called human rights “a work in progress” and said the 28-nation bloc has “carefully” noted last week’s statement by the government on taking further steps to strengthen democracy and the political sphere in the Kingdom. The EU marked