Some Cambodian students fear losing job opportunities to expats

Some Cambodian students fear losing job opportunities to expats


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Thanks to the ease of modern technology, people are moving and communicating with one another across the world more than ever before.

Some trot the globe for the sake of travel and to see new things, while others relocate to pursue

new career opportunities. In Cambodia, economic growth is attracting an increasing number of expatriates (“expats”).

The demand for new jobs is bringing in skilled businesspeople  from developed countries who arelooking to earn a lot of money.

Cambodians from all walks of life share differing views when it comes to this flow of outsiders entering the country’s job market.

Keo Sopheareth, a student of the International Study Program at the Institute of Foreign Language, shared her views on the surge of business expats.  

“Highly educated foreigners  from developed countries make it difficult for Cambodian workers to compete for these jobs, and Cambodians may lose opportunities.

“It’s difficult for us to compete with foreigners because the majority of Cambodian labourers are not as qualified. Therefore, it causes  low pay, or even unemployment, for locals,” she said.

Another student, Kim Sour, 23, studying applied linguistics also at the Institute of Foreign Language, had a similar outlook.

He said the rising number of foreigners in Cambodia could provide jobs for locals in some areas, but there is a significant inequality between the opportunities available for Cambodians and the opportun-ities available for foreigners.

“The priority will go to the foreigners first, who are considered to be more qualified candidates, even though they are not native speakers [of Cambodian],” he added.

Svay Serey Somprathna, 19, an international-relations major at the Royal University of Law and Economics, voiced his concern over the prospect of too many outsiders moving to Cambodia for jobs.

“Cambodia’s economy will soon by led by foreigners, rather than by Cambodian citizens, and we don’t know what’s coming next,” he said.

On the other hand, letting more expats into the Cambodian job market might strengthen the country’s international relations and lead to a positive exchange of knowledge and skills, he reflected.

Mey Vannak, a bank manager in Phnom Penh, sees both good and bad in the increase of expats.

“Cambodia’s labour market is still in its infancy stage. Having [business] expats is good in the way that they can share leadership experience and technical expertise. However, too many expats could be bad, as they’d take up all the jobs – especially in the service industry,” he said.

In contrast to the negative views of expats and their effect on the Cambodian economy, Pin Pechdara, 20, an information technology major at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, is “not worried about expatriates working here”.

He added: “I’m ready to compete in the job markets – local and international. If we are qualified and confident, there is nothing to be afraid of.”

Suzuki Hiroshi, chief economist at the Business Research Institute of Cambodia, said it was important for Cambodia to invite foreign experts to the country. “For Cambodia, which is in the development stage now, foreign experts are indispensible for its development,” he said.

“Young people in Cambodia should compete with the world, not with the small numbers of [local] rivals.” 

The Cambodia Immigration Department was unable to provide stat-istics on the number of expats currently in Cambodia.

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