July 25, 2015
Thank you for inviting me here today. I am truly grateful to have an opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary efforts of an exceptional group of young people.
With over 70 percent of the country under 35, Cambodia’s youth are a critically important component of society. It is crystal clear that Cambodia’s future success depends on making sure the youth are well educated and have the skills needed to succeed in today’s global economy. You, more than any other generation, have an opportunity to shape your country’s future.
In my role as the U.S. Embassy’s economic and commercial officer, I interact with young people on a regular basis – listening to their hopes and the challenges they face. The number one concern is finding a good job. Young people want work that matches their enthusiasm, rewards their commitment, and makes the most of their skills and training – jobs that provide a measure of fulfillment and affords them an opportunity to contribute to Cambodia’s progress.
My primary responsibility is to promote trade and investment – a critical part of job creation – between our two countries. I regularly meet with U.S. firms considering investment in Cambodia, highlight the many opportunities, and brief them on the challenges. We assist potential U.S. investors and encourage the type of growth that will produce good jobs for young people. I also meet with government officials to discuss ways to improve the business environment, lower regulatory barriers, and foster innovation.
A key part of a prosperous business environment is having a skilled labor force available to fill the better paying jobs that investors are looking to create. When the local workforce cannot meet this need, potential investors either take their project – and the jobs that go with it – elsewhere, or the investor is forced to bring in skilled workers from outside the country. These issues are becoming increasingly prominent as Cambodia approaches the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community 2015, which will allow for the free flow of labor among all the ASEAN member states. By improving your skills through becoming experts at Microsoft Office, you are doing more than adding to your own curriculum vitae. You are helping the country add to its well-educated and productive workforce. By competing in the Microsoft Office competition, you are also changing the image of Cambodia. Businesses, now more than ever before, will consider Cambodia as an investment destination. And investment brings jobs, not just for you, but for youth around the country.
In closing, I would like to reiterate how happy I am to be here. Your achievement today is not only a personal triumph but a win for the entire country. We all benefit when young people are able to acquire the skills to be successful, and I look forward to hearing of your continued success at the international competition.