South Korea has committed to increasing its quota of Cambodian workers to more than 10,000 by the end of 2023. The decision was announced following a February 20 meeting between Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng and Soo-bong Uh, president of Human Resources Development of Korea.
Soo-bong told Samheng that South Korea will establish a vocational training programme for foreign workers who have completed their contracts in Korea, in order to provide them with professional skills they can employ when they return home.
“Cambodia could be a priority country for the new project, which aims to provide skills that will help workers run decent businesses and earn good incomes upon their return. According to the assessment of the Korean side, Cambodian workers are honest and hardworking,” said Samheng.
He added that despite the Covid-19 pandemic of recent years, Korea had continued to recruit Cambodian workers and had taken excellent care of them. When they returned to the Kingdom, many of them became entrepreneurs or well-known investors.
“Cambodia is grateful to the Korean Ministry of Employment and Labour for providing excellent employment opportunities to Cambodians,” he said.
“For 2023, Korea has promised to employ a quota of more than 10,000 Cambodian workers, through the Manpower Training and Overseas Sending Board of the labour ministry. The ministry will recruit Cambodian workers who are capable and diligent, and they will enable Korean employers to increase productivity,” he added.
In return, Korea has promised to provide specific skills training to Cambodian workers in order for them to be able to start their own businesses.
An Bunhak, president of the Manpower Association of Cambodia, said the increase in the quota system was very good news for Cambodian workers.
“Many of them are interested in working in South Korea, as wages there are higher than in many other countries which welcome Cambodian workers,” he added.
He added that they would gain useful experience and the excellent salaries would allow them to return home with the capital to start their own businesses.
“A lot of our workers start their own business after returning from Korea, especially those who worked in agriculture. They apply the knowledge they gained overseas to succeed in the Kingdom. The income that they send home to their families while they are away also makes a significant contribution to the economic development of Cambodian society,” he continued.
Thai Vimean, a Cambodian industrial worker in South Korea’s Gyeonggi-do province, said he had just graduated from the Korea Vocational Training Centre, and his study was directly supported by the Korean government.
He explained that he had taken a ten week course that taught him cooking skills. All the expenses of the workers who went to school each weekend, including for travel, were paid by the South Korean government. After completion, the vocational centre issued certificates to successful graduates.
“Providing professional skills to Cambodian workers – as well as to workers from other countries – is a very progressive policy. It means that when our contracts are completed and we return to our own countries, we will have a fixed skill that will provide the intellectual capital we need to start our own business. Obviously, despite the best efforts of the South Korean government, whether we succeed or fail is up to us as individuals, but it gives us the chance to improve ourselves and our circumstances,” he added.