The absence of Cambodians in middle- and senior-management factory
positions represents missed employment opportunities and an obstacle to
productivity, industry monitors say.
Last month, four local universities announced plans to introduce
courses designed to produce factory supervisors in a bid to remedy the
situation, although foreigners currently hold the overwhelming majority
of factory management and supervisory positions – roles few Cambodians
have been trained to take on.
“There are over 5,000 expats working in management positions,” said
Tuomo Poutiainen, the chief technical advisor for the International
Labor Organization’s Better Factories program, backing up a 2007 study
by HR Inc. that found that only 15-20 percent of middle management
positions in the garment sector were held by Cambodians.
However, Cambodians could easily fill some management roles if they were given sufficient training, Poutiainen said.
Tep Mona, director of the Garment Industry Productivity Center (GIPC),
said “most factories are very willing to hire capable Cambodians but,
lacking education and appropriate work experience, Cambodians with
suitable skills have been difficult to find.”
According to a report commissioned by American aid agency USAID, which
started and funds the GIPC, “the presence of more Cambodians in line
supervisory and management roles helps motivate workers to higher
Mona said having foreigners hold the majority of management positions
risked hampering the transmission of knowledge to Cambodian workers
because of language and cultural barriers.
It also is a source of many of the labor disputes that frequently
disrupt production, labor union officials say, adding that foreign
factory managers often do not know how to relate to their Cambodian