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Report shows skills gap as companies struggle to find competent candidates to fill key positions

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Students attended the education fair last year.

Report shows skills gap as companies struggle to find competent candidates to fill key positions

As if highlighting the lack of work skills and experience in the Kingdom, of more than 1,000 job openings in Phnom Penh alone as of last month, only 150 young applicants were successful at the interview stage.

Phnom Penh Job Center director Aing Pheareak told The Post on Thursday that while his recruitment agency has tried to help 3,000 people looking for jobs so far this year, it has failed to meet companies’ demand for quality employees.

“Even working directly with employers, we haven’t been able to adequately supply successful applicants to those that have vacancies. As at the end of last month, we had more than 1,000 job openings, but only 150 youths were successful at job interviews,” he said.

Pheareak said while candidates generally possess the required professional and technical skills, they lack “soft skills” such as planning, teamwork and leadership abilities – mainly due to a lack of work experience.

Pheareak’s experience reflects a recent report by the National Employment Agency (NEA), which details the struggles companies and recruitment agencies face in seeking out competent applicants who have the necessary skills to succeed in the workplace.

The NEA report, 4th Employers Survey on the Lack and the Gap of Skills in the Jobs Market in 2017, showed that 77.9 percent of employers in the hospitality sector faced recruitment difficulties.

More than 50 percent of employers in shipping and logistics, health, education and training, food and beverage processing, and the insurance and finance sectors face similar problems, the report says.

Human resources agency Phnom List’s business development director Pengte Saoborina told The Post that recruiting agencies have helped thousands of candidates find jobs every year. But thousands more are ill-equipped to serve in workplaces to begin with.

“Most companies want employees with professional skills. But candidates must also demonstrate patience and a willingness to work. Employers want candidates who can adapt to their environment,” she said.

Unfortunately, most candidates lack patience, communication skills and teamwork, she said. And this resulted in needless headaches at the workplace. Most companies cannot hire them or when they do, the employees don’t stay long.

Another major factor that contributes to recruitment difficulties, Saoborina said, is the candidate’s lack of highly specialised skills. Oftentimes, this forces companies to look at potential employees who have little experience and are short of skills.

The NEA report said some of what candidates lack includes “foreign languages, specialised skills, customer service skills, speaking, teamwork, problem-solving and IT skills”.

In its Cambodia Job Outlook 2018, the NEA, drawing on data collected in the previous study, highlighted the evolution of the labour market and outlined career opportunities based on the changing employment environment and new sectors.

In its forecast, the NEA highlighted a number of jobs that would be easier to land if the proper skills were acquired. These included those in industrial and production engineering and telecommunications.

Vacancies will also be available for those qualified as radiology specialists, X-ray specialists, text translators and verbal interpreters, while IT support specialists, chemical engineers, water stream workers, glass makers, plumbers and mechanics will also be required.

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