Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth highlighted the necessity for Cambodia to adapt continually to global changes and the importance of developing leadership and institutional capacity at all levels, as the Kingdom is transitioning from labour-intensive to skills-based industries. 

Pornmoniroth made the statement while presiding over the official launch of the Skills Development Fund (SDF), which was first piloted by the ministry in 2018 to test a “new and innovative” financing mechanism.

The inauguration was held in Phnom Penh on January 30, under the theme “Develop our skill, develop our business, develop ourselves”.

Prior to its official launch, the SDF had approved 100 training projects in priority sectors such as manufacturing, construction, information and communications technology (ICT), electronics, automotive and tourism, according to its official website. 

The minister said the development is crucial for ensuring appropriate policies and practical capabilities, which are essential for meeting key priorities in this new phase.

“The Cambodian economy is transitioning from a labour-intensive industry to a skills-based industry and is evolving into a modern industry primarily driven by technology and knowledge,” he said.

He added that in this context, skill development plays an increasingly important role as it enhances the capacity, competitiveness and living standards of the Cambodian people and meets the substantial needs of the low, medium and high-skilled labour force in terms of quality and quantity, as required by investors.

Pornmoniroth stated that for these tasks to progress, active and proactive participation from all stakeholders is essential, including both the supply and demand sectors, especially the private sector. 

He said collaboration is necessary to achieve the strategic goals set by the government.

Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter, told The Post on January 30 that to become a growing industrialised country with quality and efficient labour, Cambodia needs to develop its human resources with actual knowledge and skills. 

He said establishing skilled human resources would aid the country in attracting large-scale industrial investments and in utilising more modern technology. 

Sinan noted that professional human resources in the country’s tourism industry are currently limited to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. 

He expressed concerns about the sector’s ability to handle an influx of visitors similar to that of 2019, just before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Cambodia urgently requires a greater number of skilled human resources to accelerate its development. Once we have sufficient human resources, we can transform the nation into a truly skill-based industry,” he added.

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC), also noted the country’s transition.

He stated that an increasing number of factories and enterprises are introducing modern machines to replace or reduce manpower. 

Vanak said the country is attracting investment projects that utilise state-of-the-art technologies, marking a departure from its previous focus on the textile industry, which is typically labour-intensive.

“The Cambodian industry is transitioning from being labour-intensive to one that employs more skilled labour, a shift that aligns with global trends,” he added.