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Real estate and construction sector underpins job creation

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Construction workers hard at work in Phnom Penh. The real estate boom is creating jobs for more than 200,000 Cambodians. Pha Lina

Real estate and construction sector underpins job creation

The real estate and construction sector continues to be an important driver for job creation in the Kingdom, with the industry creating employment for more than 200,000 Cambodians during the non-harvesting season, according to the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC).

Lao Tip Seiha, undersecretary of state for the MLMUPC, said recently the real estate and construction sector was providing jobs for many Cambodians who are temporary migrants from the provinces.

When not in the farming season, they flock to the capital in search of laborious but better-paying jobs. In the rainy cum harvesting season, these workers return to their sustenance of agriculture work in the provinces.

Thus, the real estate and construction sector has become one of the largest contributors to the improving economic health of Cambodia, coming in behind the garment and tourism sector. The garment sector provides employment for an estimated 800,000 people.

Touch Samnang, project manager of local real estate and construction conglomerate Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC) which employs more than 10,000 people, said most workers in this particular sector are Cambodians.

These low-skilled workers command an approximate 14,000 to 16,000 riel ($3.50 to $4) a day, while labour wages for general and skilled workers range from 16,000 to 40,000 riel ($4 to $10) per day.

Samnang also noted there has been an increase in labour wages for local workers these past few months which have helped enhance their overall livelihoods, but did not disclose the exact amount as these wages vary from company to company.

Meng Chamroeun, head of OCIC’s Olympia City development, said most Cambodian workers have not gone through proper training, leading to the inferior quality of their work, and, in turn, receiving wages in the lower rung.

“Regardless, some Cambodian workers do provide quality work, but because this sector needs many workers, we are lacking workers or skilled workers who are Cambodian,” he said.

“Wages earned by Cambodian workers are based on their skills and experience, but the average labour fee has increased, although minimally, in the last few years.”

While it is encouraging that the real estate and construction sector is prospering, there have been negative repercussions rippling through an otherwise blooming industry.

Just last month, the general department of immigration of the Ministry of Interior issued a report that over 10,000 illegal workers – 90 percent of whom were Vietnamese – have been deported since the start of this year, the bulk of which were working in the construction sector.

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