Skills or jobs: Which should Cambodia focus on?

Cambodia boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in Southeast Asia. According to research platform for investors, Macrotrends, this number stood at 1.05 percent in 2018, putting its unemployment rate only higher than Thailand’s (0.67 percent) and Lao PDR’s (0.61 percent) when compared to other ASEAN countries.

The idea that Cambodia has such a low unemployment rate may seem like good news for Cambodians at first glance. However, some experts say the low unemployment rate in Cambodia fails to reflect the real situation on the ground.

In January last year, the International Labour Organization (ILO) released a report in which it noted that while Southeast Asian countries are continuing to create jobs, they often remain of poor quality. Sara Elder, head economist at the ILO’s Asia and Pacific office, explained that what this means is that in Cambodia and other countries, while the citizens there are technically employed, they are still struggling to make ends meet.

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