Minister of Labour and Vocational Training, Ith Sam Heng, has asked Japan to increase the number of Cambodian workers to 100,000 in future as it plans to recruit 30,000 skilled workers in building maintenance alone.
The request was made Thursday at a working meeting between him, a delegation of the Cambodian International Education Support Fund (CIESF), and the Japanese Building Maintenance Association (JBMA), the ministry said in a press release.
JBMA managing director Hiroshi Horiguchi said building maintenance is a necessary skill in Japan, and included hygiene, environment, quality management, building safety and cleaning for both inside and the surrounding area.
The association has more than 2,800 companies and has Japanese workers and others from abroad totalling about one million, he said.
“Because Japan is experiencing population ageing and the slow growth of adults entering the workforce, the country faces a shortage of workers among building maintenance professionals. This is why we need to recruit workers from abroad,” he said.
The JBMA estimates that building maintenance in Japan needs about 900,000 workers, with at least 30,000 coming from abroad.
Hiroshi said the association had previously recruited skilled workers from Myanmar and the Philippines, but in future, the association intends to recruit them from Cambodia.
Sam Heng expressed his strong support for the association’s plans and urged Cambodian and Japanese officials to work closely and cooperate in this matter.
He also called on Cambodian labour recruitment companies to announce Japanese language training and test skills in preparation for sending workers to that country.
“Let the JBMA cooperate and consult the Department of Labour and Vocational Training and the ministry to recruit and refer workers, by officially recognising the ministry at a later stage,” he said.
Sam Heng suggested that the JBMA could use any training institution under the ministry to organise the skills test as they offered training in construction, electrical and automotive skills at five venues.
Secondly, the Japan Building Maintenance Association can cooperate with recruitment and training companies in the Kingdom to send workers for its language competency test.
A ministry report said Cambodia had sent nearly 15,000 trainees and skilled workers to Japan, working in agriculture, fishing, construction, food processing, garments, nursing care, machinery, metallurgy and other sectors.
Dy Thehoya, a programme officer at labour rights group Central, said at this point, Cambodia should be ready to train skilled workers in order to gain access to the job market abroad.
He said in the past, Cambodian workers rarely had the specific skill and high positions because most of them who work abroad are involved in labour-intensive jobs and subject to abuse.
“The government should consider focusing on the development of an alternative school for Cambodians, because if the people or children do not want to go through the education system by the end of grade 9, they may have a choice to go to a technical school.
“There, they can be given the same status as a graduate student in the education system. This is a long-term production of human resource,” he said.
Besides that, he also wants to see the ministry imposing strict standards for labour companies and better programmes for Cambodian workers who want to work abroad so that they are protected from being cheated or abused in any form.