Cambodia urged to address skills gap and boost productivity

21 Jan 16

Cambodia must tackle its skills gap and boost productivity if the country is to maintain its impressive growth, the Asian Development Bank has said.


While the south-east Asian country has halved the number of people living below the national poverty line in just five years, the bulk of its labour force remains employed in the informal economy or vulnerable employment, with 71% of its population living on less than $3 a day.

“Most of the country’s labour force is young but often not equipped with skills that match business needs,” added Shang-Jin Wei, ADB chief economist.

“So the challenge for policymakers is to address this gap and mismatch.

“Developing a more educated, employable and productive workforce is essential for Cambodia to broaden its economy beyond the current four mainstays of garment manufacturing, tourism, construction and agriculture to sustain high growth.”

This will require action on many fronts, the ADB warned in its report on the country. The population will need increased access to quality education and mid-level skills vocational training, better qualified teachers, the promotion of skills development in the private sector and the implementation of a national qualification framework to ensure country-wide standards are applied across education and training.

Policymakers also need to take steps to provide better income-earning opportunities for rural residents, expand social safety nets and improve work conditions in the informal sector, the bank said.

Strengthening the security of land tenure and the legal structure for land transactions could play a central role in promoting rural development and improving rural employment outcomes, it added.

The study also highlighted the gains the economy could reap by supporting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to increase productive employment and by providing incentives to informal businesses to join the formal economy, which in turn would boost tax revenues.

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