Economic Slowdown To Further Limit New Jobs

An average of 250,000 new workers entered the job market each year from 2003 to 2007, but an average of only 150,000 new jobs were created in each of those years, the Economic Institute of Cambodia has reported in its Economic Watch report for April.

The number of jobs created annually peaked at 200,000 in 2005 and 2006, though 2007 saw a sharp decline, to about 115,000 new jobs created, and further economic slowdown is expected to keep the number low for 2008, EIC Director Sok Hach said by e-mail in April.

The World Bank is aware of the glut of new workers, said Senior Country Economist Stephane Guim­bert, and in cooperation with the government, the bank is investigating ways to create about 250,000 new jobs per year.

By the end of the year, Guimbert said, the World Bank will submit an analysis to the government on ways to tackle the unemployment issue.

Guimbert added that the Bank is already working to improve Cam­bodia’s investment climate under its Trade Facilitation and Competi­tiveness Project.

The project, which began in 2005, is helping install IT technology at the borders to reduce trade transaction costs and also ex­panding the Au­tomated System for Customs Data throughout the country to increase transparency.

This will “attract more investment, diversify the sources of em­ploy­ment, and in return create more jobs for new Cambodian job-seekers,” Guimbert said.

The Ministry of Labor is also training laborers to better meet the de­mands of the local and overseas job market, ministry Under­se­cretary of State Oum Mean said last week.

Hem Bunly, director of the ministry’s Employment and Man­power Department, said 38 centers around the country provide diverse job training: from hotel and restaurant management for work in the growing tourism industry to language skills for work abroad.

In addition, Hem Bunly said, the government has signed agreements to send laborers to South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singa­pore and, most recently, Qatar.

Oum Mean added, however, that the nation’s unemployment rate remains low because of an in­formal, un­regulated labor market, which he said employs millions from motorbike taxi drivers to street vendors.

“No one can afford being unemployed. Everyone is doing some kind of activity,” Guimbert said of informal employment in Cam­bodia. “The question is whether you can live a decent life,” he said.

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