This story was written by the ILO Newsroom For official ILO statements and speeches, please visit our “Statements and Speeches” section.

Our impact, their voices

Matching workers and employers in Cambodia through better employment services

An ILO/China South-South project has led to an improvement in the sharing of labour market data and closer cooperation between the Cambodian government, workers’ and employers’ organizations.

Feature | Cambodia and Lao DPR | 03 July 2017
Phatt Veng, a university student, found his job, IT engineer, at a hotel in Siem Reap through the help from the local job center.
SIEM REAP, Cambodia (ILO News) – With his eyes flicking up and down the computer screen and fingers deftly tapping on the keyboard, Phatt Veng, a 24-years-old second year university student, is monitoring web connections for more than 50 rooms in a four-star hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This is his morning routine as a newly recruited hotel IT engineer.

It’s a first and hard-earned job for Veng who was brought up in a poor farming family. His father left the family when he was ten. His three elder siblings all became farmers. He and his youngest brother managed to go to school but at the expense of the whole family’s income, plus a huge amount of debt.

Like many other Cambodian students, he badly needed a job to support and continue his studies, but had no working experience, no social networks, and no money to buy a nice shirt for a job interview. He had tried to find a job for a long time but failed. His confidence was waning when he paid a tentative visit to a local job centre in Siem Reap.

More and more people in Cambodia resorted to public employment services to find jobs.
He still remembers it clearly: “When I got there, they told me about the positions they had to offer and asked me what I wanted to do,” Veng recalled. “I wanted to work in IT and they helped me through the application process.”

After giving him career counselling, the staff registered him in the employment system, helped him fill out the application form, and showed him how to reformat his CV.  And one week later, he got a call from the Damrei Angkor Hotel for an interview. Prior to the interview, the job centre staff provided him with tips that gave him more confidence. He got the job.

Soney Unn, HR Executive of Damrei Angkor Hotel, is a happy recruiter. “We were looking for someone young and motivated for our IT department and thanks to the support of the National Employment Agency we had a good selection of candidates. As he was studying in IT and definitely motivated, Veng was the perfect match. He works very fast and well. We’re really satisfied.”

With his first salary Veng was able to pay the university tuition fee, rental, and utilities bills. And from time to time he would send some money to his mother. Veng’s good work performance was recognized by his employer. He passed his probation period and was given a raise. To Veng, the job brought him more than just financial stability, it provided an opportunity for him to dream bigger. “When I finish university, I want to do web application development,” he said.

Veng is one of thousands of jobseekers who have benefited from career guidance and counselling offered by Cambodia’s employment service agency at its job centres located throughout the country. 

Improving employment services

The National Employment Agency or NEA was established in 2009 to support job creation, serve jobseekers and employers by facilitating job placement, stabilize the labour market and improve the Cambodian economy. Its services have drawn accolades from the public. 

The job fairs organized by National Employment Agency and its job centers across the country have become an important platform in Cambodia to match jobseekers with employers.
Nevertheless, as a new organization, NEA realized the need to continually improve its service delivery. China offered to help the NEA pioneer some of China’s good practices in employment services delivery and sharing of labour market information through the ILO/China South-South Triangular Cooperation Project.

Funded by China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security or MOHRSS and launched in 2014, the project has helped Cambodia and Lao PDR improve public employment services and labour market information systems. In Cambodia, the project helped build the capacity of NEA staff, trade unions and employers’ organizations through training courses and study tours.

“China was keen to share its achievements in poverty alleviation and employment creation with less developed countries in Southeast Asia particularly Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Cambodia,” Tim De Meyer, ILO Country Director for China and Mongolia, said. “This was a perfect match.”

A perfect match indeed, Hong Choeun, Director General of NEA agreed: “Thanks to this project we had access to the knowledge and expertise of a country which has just gone through the level of development which we are in now. That kind of learning really fits with our current needs,” he said.

“Better employment services, improved labour market information system and closer tripartite cooperation: the successes of the project were only made possible with efforts and commitments from all countries and partners involved,” said Carmela Torres, ILO’s Senior Skills and Employability Specialist.

The project directly involved workers’ and employers’ organizations in government efforts to smoothen the functioning of a budding Cambodian labour market and motivated them to play a more active role in this area.

Yann Sophorn, Research and Policy Analyst of Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations or CAMFEBA, said, “This initiative has enhanced the relationship between NEA and the employers who are actually looking for staff while helping young people to get the job. We have a common ground and a common objective to work together more intensively.”

The President of Cambodian Tourism and Services Workers’ Federation, Morm Rithy, said, “We will engage more with the job centres and support their work so they can further improve the quality of their services to more people.”

A comparison of NEA’s performance: 2010 vs 2016
  2010 2016
Registered job vacancies 10,648 62,420
Registered jobseekers 3,172 20,503
Job referral 2,178 16,962
Job placement 209 3,979
Attendees of national career fair 0 27,966
Attendees at career guidance course at university  0    6,281