The Ministry of Labour and the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations (Camfeba) yesterday agreed to work together to reduce the nation’s infamous skills gap, signing a memorandum of understanding to establish Sector Skills Councils (SSCs).
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Pich Sophoan, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Labour, said during the signing ceremony that a key strategy in the government’s technical and vocational education and training (TVET) policy is to actively engage the private sector, particularly in the industrial sector. He said this will be achieved through SSCs.
Generally-speaking, the term ‘Sector Skills Councils’, or SSCs, refer to private sector-led organisations that focus on specific industries and whose mission is primarily to reduce the skills gap and boost productivity.
“SSCs are important to engage the private sector and to determine what skills are in demand in each sector,” Mr Sophoan said.
Based on the experience and practices of other countries, SSCs provide members the opportunity to actively participate in developing and implementing policies and programmes to effectively address the skills needs in their sector, he said.
However, Mr Sophoan said getting the ball rolling in their goal to create SSCs across a wide number of sectors can be a challenging task, as SSCs are a new concept in Cambodia. For this, he said, Camfeba’s assistance will prove invaluable.
“We are truly happy to have Camfeba as our partner in this difficult task,” Mr Sophoan noted.
He said initially SSCs will be established in four sectors: auto mechanics, construction, electrical works, and manufacturing.
“We will consider other sectors later, particularly based on advice from Camfeba,” Mr Sophoan added.
Van Sou Ieng, Camfeba’s president, highlighted the importance of the agreement, pointing out that the requirements of the private sector in terms of employee skills are getting stricter every day, and stressing the need for Cambodia to focus on upskilling its workforce.
“Training programmes must be created taking into consideration employers’ needs and must match market demand,” he said, adding that at the moment skills in the auto mechanics, construction, electrical works, and manufacturing industries are in highest demand.
A report published Friday by the National Employment Agency in collaboration with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency found that ten sectors in the Cambodian job market are still facing shortages in skilled workers, including information technology (IT), hospitality and textiles.
According to the report, garment, footwear and apparel companies account for 43.6 percent of the labour market and 77.4 percent of the national manpower. The industry has the lowest density of skills gaps with the widest array of skills.