A Change of Guard

សូមស្តាប់វិទ្យុសង្គ្រោះជាតិ Please read more Khmer news and listen to CNRP Radio at National Rescue Party. សូមស្តាប់វីទ្យុខ្មែរប៉ុស្តិ៍/Khmer Post Radio.
Follow Khmerization on Facebook/តាមដានខ្មែរូបនីយកម្មតាម Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/khmerization.khmerican

Monday, 3 December 2012

Reducing Youth Unemployment

William e
William E. Todd, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia
I can tell by the increased activity on our Facebook page that many of you followed the visit of President Obama.  Thank you all very much for sharing your reactions to the President’s visit.  It was indeed an historic and exciting moment in U.S.-Cambodia relations, and I look forward to building on this momentum in my efforts to continue forging an even more effective U.S.-Cambodia partnership in the years to come.  Please keep sending me your questions and comments at AskAMBToddPP@state.gov.

In past columns, we’ve had several exchanges on economic and business development in Cambodia, including Cambodia’s amazing economic growth over the past decade, increasing American trade and investment, and corporate social responsibility.  These discussions have led many of you to ask, “What plans does the U.S. Embassy have to assist Cambodia in tackling youth unemployment?”

During my travels around the country, I have met hundreds of well-educated young Cambodians who have shared with me the challenges they face in finding decent employment.  One of the primary reasons that I established my Youth Council was to have a way to work with young Cambodians on generating ideas on how the United States can best help Cambodia to create the economic conditions that will lead to increased job opportunities for young people.

Youth unemployment and under employment are difficult issues around the world and have a major impact on society, resulting in greater income inequality and an unending circle of intergenerational poverty and social exclusion.  According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), young people comprise 40 percent of the 200 million unemployed worldwide.  Before the recent global economic crisis, youth unemployment in the United States was about 10 percent and now stands at 17 percent.  With young populations throughout Southeast Asia, the ILO projected that youth unemployment rate in the region, including Cambodia, rose to approximately 14.8 percent at the end of 2010.  Undoubtedly, youth unemployment is a critical issue facing Cambodia.

In a previous column, I wrote that investment in education is vital to increasing Cambodia’s pool of skilled labor, but other elements are also critical for increasing employment opportunities for young people.  We live in an ever-changing world full of new possibilities for economic growth.  Cambodia urgently needs to identify emerging areas of economic growth and tailor programs to help young people develop the job skills necessary to work in these new fields, including through outreach programs, training, apprenticeships, and access to job-search assistance.

A growing number of young people in emerging-market countries are forgoing careers in large companies or the public sector to start their own ventures.  By fostering competition and creating a more business-friendly environment in Cambodia, young people here could consider entrepreneurship and self-employment as viable alternatives to more traditional employment.  Removing entry barriers and reducing operating restrictions for new startup companies can encourage innovation and efficiency in the economy.  As U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides said during Global Entrepreneurship Week, “We can’t have stable societies without economic opportunity, and nothing creates opportunity like entrepreneurship.”

Additionally, I would like to highlight two successful youth employment programs in the United States.  The AmeriCorps program provides young people between the ages of 18 and 24 with the opportunity to gain work experience and job skills, a living allowance, and funding for continuing education.  In return the AmeriCorps volunteers address critical community needs, including education, disaster services, health, environmental stewardship, and economic opportunity.  Another program is the Summer Jobs+ initiative, a collaborative effort among the U.S. federal government, the private sector, non-profit companies, and municipalities, which created more than 300,000 summer job opportunities in 2012 for low-income and disadvantaged youth.  As U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said, “There’s no substitute for the real-world experience of work and no replacement for the dignity that comes with earning your first paycheck.”

Both AmeriCorps and Summer Jobs+ provide young people with on-the-job training and work-related skills, such as communication, time management, teamwork, and mentorship, which allow them to prepare for future employment.

The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh is committed to working in a collaborative manner with the Cambodian government, the private sector, and NGO partners to expand economic opportunity for young people in Cambodia.  I believe that the talents and energy of the youth are vital to creating greater economic prosperity for all Cambodians.  Steps taken to improve employment opportunities for young people will also benefit everyone else in Cambodia.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my responses to your great questions.  To keep this exchange going, please send your questions to me in English or Khmer at AskAMBToddPP@state.gov, and don’t forget to follow my blog at http://blogs.usembassy.gov/todd/.

William E. Todd is U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia

No comments: