Youths Unaware of Job Market Needs: Report

The 275,000 annual new entrants to the Cambodian labor market lack information on the market’s needs due to a lack of communication between the education and bus­iness sectors, a private sector federation said in a new report released Friday.

The “Bridging the Gap” report, which was launched by the Cam­bodian Federation of Em­ploy­ers and Business Associations, found that only 19 percent of Cam­bodian high school students make higher education and training decisions based on an understanding of the needs of the job market.

Nearly 80 percent base such de­cis­ions on the experiences and opin­ions of friends and family, ac­cording to the report, whose findings were based on a survey of 2,200 youth in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Kompong Cham and Svay Rieng provinces.

About 60 percent of university and vocational training students said they chose their areas of study based on personal preference, whereas 30 percent said they chose their fields of study based on the needs of the job market.

As a result, only 13 percent of 220 surveyed employers, representing public and private firms employing some 32,000 people, said graduates had the skills necessary for work.

Bridging the Gap is the first time in Cambodia that employers have been surveyed about labor market challenges, Camfeba President Van Sou Ieng said.

“We have a lack of communication between the university and the employer in regard to job skills. We’re training people, students in skills that are not adequate to the demands of today,” Van Sou Ieng said on the sidelines of the launch.

Camfeba’s survey, a joint initiative with the International Labor Or­gan­ization, found that 23 percent of the youths surveyed wanted to work in the banking and insurance sector, whereas only 3 percent want to work in garment and textiles.

“There’s a mismatch here…. Gar­ments, hotels and construction are looking for employees,” Van Sou Ieng said.

In 2006, there were 92,310 students at Cambodian universities compared to just 16,912 at vocational and technical training centers, Labor Ministry Undersecretary of State Var Sim Samrith said at Friday’s launch.

This underscores the mismatch in the Cambodian labor market, Var Sim Samrith said, adding that Cambodian students are more in­ter­ested in managing businesses than learning technical skills necessary for the market’s current demands.

“I think the job market at the moment would prefer more skills than degrees,” Norton University President Chan Sokkheing said during a break at the launch.

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