Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Heng Sour affirms his commitment to champion skilled workers’ recognition and foster links in social protection across Cambodia and ASEAN nations. 

In a video posted to his official social media page on January 2, Sour unveiled plans for a database aligning jobs with local requirements and reinforcing social protection ties.

“At the 2022 ASEAN Summit [in Phnom Penh], leaders and heads of state collectively decided on a roadmap. By 2030, we aim to establish a mechanism for coordinating the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) across all 10 ASEAN countries,” he shared.

He said that while looking ahead to 2030, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand are currently collaborating to explore the practicality of the NSSF in these five countries.

“Cambodia hosted discussions among the five nations, and we will keep exploring how we can pioneer such a mechanism. This aims to inspire other ASEAN member states that have not joined yet, so that by 2030, all  ASEAN countries can collaborate in deploying NSSF and other social protection systems,” Sour said.

Ken Sophornrithy, president of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies (ACRA), voiced support for Sour’s proposal on January 3. The association endorses the idea of establishing a database to align work opportunities with local needs, including a social protection system. 

Historically, workers returning from abroad faced challenges in matching their skills upon returning to Cambodia, often seeking employment independently. Sophornrithy said ACRA advocates for a system facilitating additional technical and vocational education and training (TVET), making it easier for workers to secure jobs.

“It would be fantastic if we could connect the social protection system of Cambodian workers with the country where they worked. Many workers are obligated to contribute to the social regime in their host country but receive nothing when they return home,” he said.

Sophornrithy also mentioned that Cambodian workers in South Korea, Thailand and Japan wisely utilise their free time to acquire extra skills like language, baking and cosmetology.

As per the labour ministry, Cambodia is actively enhancing cooperation with host countries, providing extra job opportunities for approximately 1.3 million citizens who send remittances worth approximately $2.7 billion annually to their families.