Cambodia urged to investment in skills development to reap benefits of 4IR hinh anh 1A garment industry worker at a regional training centre in Siem Reap City, Siem Reap Province. (Photo: ADB)
Hanoi (VNA) – Cambodia should consider developing industry transformation maps in key sectors to enable the transition to the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) with adequate investment in skills development for new and repositioned jobs, according to a new study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The finding is one of six key recommendations emerging from ADB’s study “Reaping the Benefits of Industry 4.0 Through Skills Development in Cambodia.” It is part of a four-country study of ASEAN nations that also include Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

The study examines the garment and tourism industries in Cambodia, both of which are important for growth, employment, international competitiveness, and 4IR.

It finds that 4IR technologies will eliminate jobs in the garments and tourism industries, but these would be offset by increase in demand arising from higher productivity, potentially generating net job increases of 39 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

While the government and industry are keen to promote 4IR skills, employer surveys in the two industries reveal limited understanding of 4IR technologies. For example, only 28 percent and 35 percent of garment manufacturing and tourism employers surveyed agreed or strongly agreed when asked whether they have a good understanding of 4IR technologies and their relevance to their companies.

Despite the overall positive net employment effect in both industries, the study warns there is no guarantee that displaced workers can seamlessly move into newly created jobs without adequate and timely investments in skills development.

Job displacement is also more likely to impact women who make up around 81 percent of the workforce in Cambodia’s garment manufacturing industry.

ADB Country Director for Cambodia Sunniya Durrani-Jamal said “We must improve knowledge of 4IR technologies and their benefits, support enterprises including small and medium enterprises to adopt advanced technologies, and offer support for retraining and reskilling programs including through tax incentives to ensure that no one is left behind.”

“As 4IR technologies spread rapidly, extensive investments in digital skills will improve the chances of the young and old to access higher-quality jobs and lower the risk of job losses,” said ADB Principal Education Specialist Shanti Jagannathan. “Now is the time to rethink delivery of skills using virtual platforms and mobile technologies, and develop agile training institutions with courses and credentials that match market needs”.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating digital transformation, the study finds that companies deploying 4IR technologies are likely to recover faster from the disruptions caused by the pandemic and be more resilient in the future./