Agents stress challenges in sourcing maids from Cambodia

SINGAPORE - Cambodian maids need to be trained and must learn simple English so that they can adjust to working life in Singapore, maid agents said.

They were weighing in on the plans by the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) to make Cambodia an approved source for maids to help ease the shortage here.

Most of the 208,400 maids in Singapore are from Indonesia and the Philippines.

The Republic is now grappling with a shortfall in Indonesian maids because of a change in policy regarding recruitment costs introduced by Jakarta last year.

Agents said they support the association's intentions to cast the net wider but added that there are challenges in tapping manpower from a new source.

They said they will need to set up training centres in Cambodia where the women can pick up conversational English and be taught about living in a city like Singapore.

The majority of Cambodians speak little English and live in rural areas.

Nation Employment managing director Gary Chin said: "We will need to hire native Cambodian speakers to recruit these maids too."

Cambodian maids are new to Singapore but they have been working in Malaysia for nearly a decade.

Agents said they are targeting Cambodian maids who have experience working in Malaysia to ensure that those who come to Singapore can adapt more easily to life here.

About 15,000 Cambodian maids have returned home after working in Malaysia and these maids might be available to work here.

Employers said they are open to hiring Cambodian maids but stressed that the latter must be prepared for the different lifestyle here.

Retiree Kamariah Amin, 63, who has had an Indonesian maid with her for two years, said: "They have to be briefed that they're coming to another country and the customs and practices are different."

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