Inspired by Sweden: Cambodia initiates first ever employment policy


A new National Employment Policy drafted with the help of Sweden will improve Cambodia’s economy for the young generation, according to the International Labor Organization.

According to the ILO statement The National Employment Policy aims to increase ”decent and productive” employment opportunities, enhance skills and human resources development, and strengthen labor market governance.

“The document outlines strategies to address the challenges of creating sufficient jobs to meet the needs of Cambodia’s young and growing population… it also stresses the need for these jobs to be decent and inclusive,” the ILO said.

It took more than 5 years to complete the Sweden-inspired policy of 13 pages, but according to Prime Minister Hun Sen, it was worth the wait. On Thursday 22 October 2015 he launched the New Employment Policy and called it ”important and relevant to Cambodia”. The policy comes following a government decision to raise the mininum wage to $140 per month and amid a growing unemployment challenge, forcing many Cambodians to seek work abroad.

The policy aims to improve the productivity of Cambodia’s labour force so it can lessen its reliance on low-margin sectors such as garments and agriculture.

“This policy will contribute to achieving a sustainable growth, improving livelihoods and promoting social harmony through decent and productive employment for all,” said Prime Minister Hun Sen, when he unveiled the policy at the Presidential Palace in Phnom Penh.

Furthermore, the policy aims to improve the current state of affairs by increasing opportunities for good work, improving skills in the workforce and enhancing labour relations.

To accomplish these measures, it suggests a wide range of propositions, such as increasing investment in vocational training, improving the registration of small businesses, supporting job centres and strengthening labour inspections.

It also floated the possibility of creating some programs that would be new to Cambodia, such as a national scheme for unemployment benefits.

The policy, which will run from this year to 2025, was welcomed by the International Labour Organization (ILO), which supported it during its drafting process.

“It focuses on decent work and economic growth and places job creation at the heart of economic policy-making and the national development strategy,” said Maurizio Bussi, head of the ILO country office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR, in a statement.

However, Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, said that while he thought the policy was a good move, it had a lot of ground to cover.

“Human resources in Cambodia move to Thailand because they expect higher pay and better conditions there, [causing] a shortage,” he said. He believes the timing of the release of the new policy is bad. According to him the employment policy comes at a time when there a few jobs for Cambodians other than factories, where labor conditions are not properly ensured and where wages are low. In provinces outside the capital, people “are mostly eyeing jobs outside Cambodia,” he said.

He urged the government to focus on skills training and other preparations for Asean economic integration, which begins at the end of this year.

Sources: and

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