Cambodian government seeks more workers to meet needs of industry

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The Cambodian government is seeking to increase the number of people employed in the industry and construction sectors from 11.8 per cent to 12 per cent of the total workforce over the next year, in a bid to satisfy growing demand.

In the first six months of this year, employment in the industry sector increased 9.53 percent.

The sector contributed 30 percent of GDP exceeding the target by 0.6 percent, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Hydropower and construction are the main drivers of industrial sector expansion, with growth of 24.80 percent and 17.98 percent respectively.

The government plans to achieve a 9.1 percent increase in the value of the industry sector next year, Minister of Planning and Investment Dr Souphanh Keomixay revealed at a recent meeting between government cabinet members, the Vientiane mayor and provincial governors.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare is working closely with the public and private sectors as well as international organisations and development partners in a bid to spur industrial growth.

In the first six months of 2017, the number of Lao workers in the domestic and foreign markets reached 69,352 and is expected to reach 143,230 people by the end of this year.

The ministry has also improved workers’ skills to supply the needs of the domestic and foreign markets, with the number of skilled workers now estimated at 12,800 and expected to reach 131,600 by the end of the year.

The government is also targeting an economic growth rate of 7 percent a year. It has invested a lot of funds in various projects and opened the door wide to domestic and foreign investment.

As the number of processing plants and construction projects increase, more workers are needed.

A key example is the Laos-China railway, which will need a huge number of workers.

At present, about 5,000 people are working on the project with the majority being Vietnamese and Chinese.

Chinese contractors recently announced they hoped to recruit as many as 7,000 Lao workers for construction of the railway.

Labour absorption in the industrial sector has not been in line with the industry’s targeted contribution to GDP, so many workers have had to be brought in from overseas.

As more foreign companies set up factories in special and specific economic zones (SEZs) in Laos, the government anticipates that several thousand job opportunities will be created for Lao nationals.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment recently unveiled the government’s target of attracting investment by some 140 companies in SEZs in 2018, which should generate over 4,150 jobs for local people.

The government also plans to increase labour participation in the services sector to 23.7 percent and reduce the unemployment rate by 2 percent in 2018.