62% of Cambodian companies plan to recruit this year

62% of Cambodian companies plan to recruit this year

As many as 62 percent of companies in a survey conducted in Cambodia planned to recruit more staff in 2024, with leadership, quality control and project management topping the list of most needed skills, according to the latest Skills Gap Assessment Report of the European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham).

The report, based on a survey participated by 106 companies, indicated the relative confidence of the business community about short-term economic growth in the country but it also highlighted the issue of skills shortage – both soft skills and technical skills.

Among the 62 percent that indicated recruitment plans for the year, 33 percent said they were most likely to recruit and 29 percent said somewhat likely.

However, when reverifying these responses with EuroCham’s committees, some sectors were cautious about recruiting new staff this year due to slower-than-expected economic growth and recovery, said the report.

According to EuroCham Cambodia, the survey and the report are part of the Skills Development Program (SDP), a project mandated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by Swisscontact.

Among the companies that reported that they want to expand their staff this year, 50 percent said they planned to hire between one to nine candidates, and 30 percent planned to hire between 10 to 24 candidates.

Despite such an overall optimistic recruiting environment, 74 percent of survey respondents reported that they are facing challenges in hiring qualified employees in Cambodia.

The most common obstacles included labour shortages by location (30 percent), under-qualified staff in general (30 percent), high candidate salary and benefits expectations (20 percent) and difficulties in language proficiency (10 percent) and limited job applications for some advertised positions (10 percent).

Respondents, when asked to identify the most prominent skills gaps in their sectors, reported leadership (8.50 percent) and quality control (7.69 percent) as key areas to address.

Project management and quality control were identified as highly needed skills in each of the five sectors evaluated in the survey. Project management was listed as a top-needed skill by the construction (11.96 percent), electrical (11.53 percent), and mechanics (11.42 percent) sectors when compared to the manufacturing (7.44 percent) and tourism & hospitality (5.96 percent) sectors.

The higher percentages in the construction, electrical and mechanics sectors for project management may indicate a strong reliance on project-based work, where managing timelines, resources, and stakeholders is essential.

Meanwhile, 49 percent of respondents said they were not aware of existing training options in Cambodia, a trait that was more pronounced in micro and small companies. Respondents from the manufacturing and tourism and hospitality sectors were the least aware of existing training options among all sectors.

The responses suggested either the unavailability of training options close to their business locations or that existing training options in Cambodia may not be seen as relevant to the companies’ current skills needs.

According to the survey, 44 percent of large companies were willing to increase their employees’ monthly salaries by up to $50 after participating in training, while 28 percent of large companies were willing to increase monthly salaries by more than $100 after they complete training.

Among micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), 36 percent said that they were willing to increase their employees’ monthly salaries by up to $50 after training, while 34 percent of MSMEs were not planning to make any salary changes at all.

Responding to the findings of the survey, Thong Mengdavid, Geopolitical Analyst and Lecturer at the Institute for International Studies and Public Policy (IISPP) at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), told Khmer Times that the revelation about recruitment plans by companies is a strong indicator of confidence in the country’s economic growth.

“Additionally, the focus on skills gaps suggests that companies are not only planning to hire but are also concerned about the quality of the workforce, an issue of great importance for the Royal Government of Cambodia as well and the Ministry of Labour has already enhanced efforts to improve the skills of the labour force,” Mengdavid said.

Swisscontact Cambodia Country Director Rajiv Pradhan said that the report will help the government and other stakeholders identify the skills gaps and tailor their training programmes to address the most needed skills.

“As Cambodia embarks to graduate from Least Developed Country status by 2030, skills will be the driver for the growth. Hence this assessment is very timely,” he said.

Narath Chheav, Chairman of EuroCham’s Human Resources Committee, said that by supporting and investing in staff’s learning, companies could develop a talent pool that not only helps the company but the business community around.

“The combination of prosperous businesses and empowered people will make Cambodia a more alluring place to live and invest in,” Chheav noted.

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