In a new report on the quantity and quality of jobs in the Asia-Pacific region, the International Labour Organization (ILO) flagged the issue of the lack of employment opportunities for youth in the region as being of concern.
“Labour market prospects for youth – aged 15-24 – remain gloomy in parts of the Asia-Pacific region, which has the world’s largest youth population,” said the report.
The October 2012 Asia-Pacific Labour Market Update analyses economic data gathered from official government statistics and the CEIC Global Database.
Cambodia was not included in the report as data for 2012 was not available, said Phu Huynh, an ILO economist in Bangkok.
However, the ILO’s Decent Work Country Profile-Cambodia, released in July, which assesses Cambodia’s progress over the last decade, notes a low youth unemployment rate of 0.2 per cent in 2009.
Despite this, the Decent Work report suggests that though unemployment rates in Cambodia are low, there is a lack of good quality employment, and for the better skilled jobs, there is a mismatch between the skills available and the skills required.
“Cambodia’s economy remains limited in its ability to create decent employment opportunities,” said the report.
According to Sophorn Tun, the ILO’s national coordinator in Cambodia, approximately 300,000 young people enter Cambodia’s labour market every year.
“Cambodia requires technical skills to prepare the labour force for the opportunities that will come with the economic growth,” he said.
“However, the current educational institutions and curricula often do not match market demands and the needs of the private sector,” Sophorn Tun said.
Statistics from the National Employment Agency, provided by the ILO, show the crafting, service and sales industries are the worst affected by the skills gap.
According to Sophorn Tun, Cambodia’s young workforce should aim to possess a range of good technical and soft skills to match the growing demand from employers for workers with these mixed skills.
Longdy Yi, president of youth leadership organisation AIESEC, agreed with the sentiments expressed by the ILO.
“As the leader of AIESEC Cambodia, my experience working with different stakeholders has taught me that it’s not that local companies don’t have jobs for youth because they do have a lot of them,” he said.
“It’s that they have difficulties finding the right talents to fill their vacancies and their needs,” he added.
A major cause of this is the lack of diversity of courses offered, accessibility to higher education and training, and the lack of coordination between educators and employers.
“I think a lot of young people in general are worried,” he said.
“That’s why they strive to finish their university in the first place. However, not a lot of them know what they can do to lower their worry, to lower the possibility of not getting employed in the first place.”
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