In its first year of operation, the Human to Human recruitment agency experienced how challenging the recruitment of factory workers can be.
Human to Human is a private company that “acts social” by providing training for workers and deals with companies that follow ethical standards.
Previously, managing director Chap Chamroeunkunkoet trained garment workers for the International Labour Organisation.
“We want to make sure that recruited workers meet the requirements of the company,” she said. For that reason, we offer training on labour law and awareness of human trafficking and health and safety issues.”
The company provides its training sessions, conducted through NGOs, to students and recruited workers for a small charge or for free.
“The factories demand high qualifications and much work experience, and it’s hard to find qualified workers. By conducting the training, we attract potential employees and can tell them what they need to know when they are working with us,” Chap said.
Eight employees currently work in Human to Human’s small office next to Phnom Penh International Airport. Most clients are garment factories or companies from Japan, Korea, the US, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China.
The agency recruited about 1,000 skilled and fewer than 1,000 unskilled workers for its clients during its first year.
Human to Human, however, cannot yet meet the demands of clients. “We can only offer unskilled workers because skilled workers need to be trained for at least a month,” Chap said. Skilled workers would often leave after training for better-paid jobs.
Companies also hesitate to trust new workers.
“They demand high qualifications and fear that employees will leave after training,” Chap said.
“It is difficult to find enough people who are willing to work six days a week, far from their friends and families. Workers are not easy to recruit; it is getting harder and harder, especially when we offer them work in a factory,” she added.
More and more skilled and unskilled workers will move out of Cambodia hoping for higher pay, unaware of the dangers.
“We need to maintain our resources now or companies will have a hard time finding local workers in the future,” Chap said.
In its Cambodia Skills Development Centre Report of February 2011, USAID stated: “Factories employing largely uneducated Cambodians had two standard arguments against training: that the local workers could not learn to be more efficient so it was more important to keep pay low; and that if an employee learned a new skill and left the factory the investment would be wasted.”
Human to Human’s customers, however, follow different principles. “Most of the factories we work with offer $100 per month and accommodation, food, security and insurance,” Chap told the Post yesterday.
Of the more than 270 factories in Cambodia, fewer than 10 were managed by Cambodians in 2011, according to the USAID report.
Chap hopes that this will change: “Cambodians need to learn from foreign entrepreneurs and then they can open their own factories.”