Building human capital for future growth

23 Jun 2013

Representatives of the Royal Government of Cambodia and UNDP have met recently to discuss a human capital study titled “Higher Education and Skills Framework for Industrial Transition.” The purpose was to collect feedback from the government counterparts and technical experts on the preliminary findings and key ideas of the study.

The study is being developed as part of the broader efforts to put in place strategy for economic diversification to protect Cambodia from impacts of external crisis like the global financial turmoil in 2009, UNDP Country Director Setsuko Yamazaki said in her remarks at the meeting on 23 June.

She said that, despite its successful recovery from the crisis, Cambodia’s economy remain vulnerable to “exogenous shocks” due to its heavy reliance on a few traditional sources of growth, especially the garment, tourism and construction industries.

Following the 4th Cambodia Economic Forum in 2011, UNDP has been supporting the government in reviewing human capital implications of future progress in Cambodia. In August of that year, UNDP and the Supreme National Economic Council (SNEC) jointly produced the report called “Human Capital Implications of Future Economic Growth in Cambodia: Elements of a Suggested Roadmap.”

The “Higher Education and Skills Framework for Industrial Transition” study provides technical analysis and policy inputs from a human capital perspective. It gives particular attention to the needs for Cambodia to position its higher education and skills development in a way that will respond to the need for industrial development the government is pursuing. Inputs from this study will feed into the Industrial Development Policy (2014-2018) being developed by SNEC. It is expected to be ready by the end of this year.

Ms. Yamazaki noted that skills shortages and mismatches are among the challenges Cambodia is currently facing. She added that focus should be on equipping young people with education and skills needed for Cambodia not only to realize the goal of achieving middle-income country status by 2020 but also to put foundation for “a resilient, equitable and inclusive society.”

“The quality of the young people who will join the labor force will determine whether Cambodia can take advantage of the demographic bonus period, a one-time opportunity for development in Cambodia,” she said.