Following Everjobs’ first Cambodian careers fair, Niels Van Klooster, country manager for the online jobs portal, breaks down the current state of the Kingdom’s labour market
Which industries offer the most opportunities for young Cambodians today? How do you think this will change over the years ahead?
Our data shows that the banking industry was the top hiring industry for 2016. This sector has been growing tremendously in recent years – in 2016 alone, four new banks and 12 microfinance institutions were founded in Cambodia – and we expect it will continue to be a hot sector. We also notice that this industry is seeking more candidates with IT skills, as they strengthen their focus on online banking services and mobile banking apps.
The hospitality industry hired the second highest number of people in 2016. Cambodia received over 4.4 million tourists in 2016, up 5% from the previous year. We expect the Kingdom will continue to grow as a popular tourism destination and, with the arrival of many upscale hotels and resorts in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in 2017, career opportunities within the sector are expected to remain strong.
In the future, we believe that the construction boom will lead to increased demand for engineers, technicians and architects.
Where have Everjobs noticed skills shortages in Cambodia, and what needs to be done to overcome these?
Both in terms of hard skills and soft skills we notice there is still a gap for the labour market in Cambodia.
The hard skills taught by schools and universities often do not match the skills companies are looking for here in Kingdom. For example, several reports indicate companies find it difficult to recruit IT staff in Cambodia.
One way to overcome this would be to increase communication between the private and public sector, making sure universities clearly understand the needs of the current labor market and adapt their course outlines accordingly.
Another issue is the lack of soft skills.
There are several ways to overcome this. One way is to encourage people to do internships or take up part time jobs. We noticed that this is being picked up by companies as well, as the number of internships and part time jobs being posted on Everjobs have been increasing steadily over the last years.
Last month, you mentioned that Everjobs was working on an online course catalogue. Can you explain how it will help Cambodians?
We want to achieve two things with our course catalogue.
First of all, with over 40 universities alone in Phnom Penh, it can be difficult and confusing sometimes for students to have an overview of what is offered and to make an informed decision about what to study. With the course catalogue we hope to increase transparency and help students with their educational and career choices.
Secondly, we hope to narrow the distance between the educational sector and the labour market. This hopefully will improve the match between the hard skills taught during higher education and the actual skills required by companies.
What were some of the major takeaways from your recent careers fair?
With 33 companies joining the fair and 80,000 visitors in AEON mall on 25 June, we can say that both candidates seeking jobs and top companies advertising them are still interested in attended real-life careers fairs. Candidates want to find out what career opportunities there are, while top companies want to show job seekers what sets them apart from other companies.
Finding and applying for jobs online offers a lot of advantages, but these fairs provide a unique opportunity for job seekers to experience the company culture and meet potential colleagues in person, and for companies to reach out to a broad range of potential candidates who might not have been thinking of applying before.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.