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Tourism sector ‘needs 200K new workers’

Tourists take photos as a tour guild explains wall carvings at Siem Reap’s Bayon Temple earlier this year.
Tourists take photos as a tour guild explains wall carvings at Siem Reap’s Bayon Temple earlier this year. Heng Chivoan

Tourism sector ‘needs 200K new workers’

A Ministry of Tourism official announced yesterday that the country would need an additional 200,000 trained tourism professionals if it was to fulfil its target of receiving 7 million international tourists a year by 2020.

Try Chhiv, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Tourism, said the assessment of the industry’s needs was announced at a workshop held at the headquarters for the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia.

“In order to respond to the projections of 7 million international tourists in 2020, the ministry believes that the sector needs 200,000 more professionals,” he said. “Currently, we still have a shortage of skilled labour and resources related to tourism.”

Presently there are 620,000 Cambodians working in the tourism sector who facilitated the 4.8 million international arrivals last year, according to Chhiv.

“If we had between 800,000 to 1 million Cambodians trained in hospitality, we would be able to handle future growth,” he said.

In order to reach the government’s goal, the ministry has developed a policy to promote vocational training for hotel and travel services that teaches 32 different skills across 12 vocational training centres, Chhiv explained.

“We need to strengthen our vocational training,” he said, adding that currently the country can only pump out 2,000 certified professionals a year.

“The ministry encourages the private sector to also invest in skills training to meet the growing market demand,” he said, adding that the training centres should be built to certify professionals that meet ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) standards, allowing them to work within the region.

Luu Meng, co-chair of the Government-Private Sector Working Group on Tourism, said that human resources are severely lacking in Cambodia.

“We lack a lot of the skills and resources needed to meet tourist demand,” he said. “I think that we need to encourage all schools to invest in proper training, especially when it comes to language skills.”

He said with the large influx of international tourists, language skills in Chinese, Korean, Japanese and French would be essential in the future.

“Cambodia has been able to educate a lot of accountants and managers, but the education system is not balanced for the current job market,” he said. “There are a lot of opportunities in the tourism market.”

Ang Kim Eang, General Manager of Great Angkor Tours, said the lack of trained professionals means tourism companies face fierce competition in hiring the right employees locally.

“Our skill resources are limited, and if we can’t find employees locally, we have to find them from abroad,” he said. “If we continue to let international professionals take our jobs, then our human resources will develop slowly.”

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