NANNING — Working as an IT engineer at a hotel may sound normal to many, however, for Phatt Veng, a 24-year-old college student in Siem Reap, Cambodia, this would be hard to imagine if he had not visited a local job center.
Raised in a poor family, Veng needed to find a job to pay for his studies, but a lack of experience and information made job-seeking difficult.
When he visited a job center, Veng was asked about his ideal position and helped to refine his resume. A week later, he got a call from a hotel manager who would become his employer.
“Now I can afford my rent, electricity, water, food and clothing bills, and university tuition fees,” Veng said.
However, three years ago, the job center would not have been able to provide Veng with such effective service.
Veng benefited from a public employment service (PES) improvement project led by the International Labor Organization (ILO) with support from China.
On July 24, the Belt and Road Conference on Employment Services in ASEAN+3 started in Nanning, capital of South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
At the three-day forum, a video shared Veng’s story together with other beneficiaries of the ILO/China South-South Cooperation Project.
The forum, sponsored by the ILO and China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MoHRSS), has attracted representatives from 10 ASEAN member states as well as China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. It aims to share good practices and experiences on PES, especially those from the ILO/China cooperation project.
Useful experience to share
The PES project, which ran from 2014 until 2016, was undertaken by China, Cambodia and Laos. It was designed to improve employment and reduce poverty in the two less developed ASEAN countries.
“We felt that it was the right combination,” said Tim De Meyer, director of the ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia.
De Meyer said China has been going through urbanization and this process, which is closely connected with PES, is what Cambodia and Laos are facing now.
According to the project, staff at PES centers in Cambodia and Laos were able to visit job centers in China, learn how the centers work and receive training there. The centers were also guided to improve services such as job fairs and information networks, better matching job-seekers with employers.
Hong Choeun, director general of the National Employment Agency of Cambodia, said similar experiences and cultural context make China’s practices more useful and replicable for Cambodia.
“It helps us understand faster, learn faster and adapt it faster to our employment service,” he said.
In Cambodia, registered job vacancies and job-seekers were about 62,400 and 20,500 respectively in 2016, both rising to about five times that of 2010. In Laos, the country’s nine job centers registered more than 13,000 vacancies and placed over 2,000 job-seekers in 2014 and 2015.
Keo Chanthavixay, deputy director general of the Department of Skills Development and Employment of Laos, said the country has been inspired by China’s experiences in several aspects.
“We got the idea from China of developing a labor market information system, which can share information between national and local levels and link job centers,” she said.
“We have also learnt that there are guides for helping different groups of people, such as those with disabilities and youth, in Chinese job centers, which we found to be very good,” she said, adding that Laos has also been designing their own employment guides.
Further reaching out
China saw rapid development in employment services in recent years. By the end of 2016, it had nearly 27,000 employment service institutions, including more than 5,000 official PES institutions, which provided services for nearly 700 million people last year.
“While China used to receive assistance on employment from other countries, we can now share our own experiences to help developing countries,” said Zhang Wenmiao, deputy director general of the Department of Human Resources Market of the MoHRSS.
Zhang said the cooperation is especially important under China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to share both achievement and concepts of development, and will be further expanded to other developing countries within the Belt and Road region.
“It is not only assistance, but also acts as part of China’s strategy of going out,” Zhang said.
Holding a similar opinion, De Meyer said the ongoing forum is not only about summarizing the success stories of the two countries alone, but also expecting further triangular cooperation.
“There are more countries that can benefit from the same approach,” De Meyer said.