PHNOM PENH - As more and more Cambodians enter the job market, with a growing population of young people, there still remain plenty of job opportunities with foreign investors at home, according to a new study by the Ministry of Labor. But people either don’t know where to find them, or are training for the wrong thing, experts say.
“A lot of investments, especially from Japan, are coming, so we will need more workers to work for them,” said Pich Sophoan, a secretary of state for the Ministry of Labor. “Investors always tell me that their companies need people to work,” he said at the second annual job fair, held by the National Employment Agency in Phnom Penh recently. “So I don’t agree with people saying that they couldn’t find jobs in Cambodia.”
The rate of new jobs is higher than the rate of new job seekers, he said.
The Economic Institute of Cambodia estimates that some 8 million people are currently employed in Cambodia, especially in agriculture, construction, garments, textiles and tourism.
But the country also sees some 300,000 new job seekers each year. That’s about the same number as the total employed in the garment industry. The government also expects about 200,000 students to graduate with bachelor’s degrees between 2009 and 2014, with only about 80,000 jobs open to them.
“Right now we need skilled people to work in companies,” said Noun Sophoan, a spokesman for the International Labor Organization. There is a misunderstanding about the job market, he said, with too many people getting accounting or marketing training in a marketplace that needs skilled labor.
The greatest demands remain in the garment sector, electronics, mechanics or construction, according to the World Bank. But about half of university students are thought to be studying finance, accounting, marketing or law, which are in less demand.
Hai Hunleng, an adviser at the National Employment Agency, said a major gap exists between the demand of the marketplace and the supply of labor, as development companies seek workers and as graduates find themselves unemployed.
“Most of the graduates have degrees in fields like social studies and law,” he said. “Which are not the demands of the companies.”