Job Prospects in the Mekong

This project will address the effects of fast-paced economic growth in the Greater Mekong region on jobs for youth. Researchers will analyze labour markets in six countries, focusing on the characteristics and policies that constrain or promote job creation for youth. Employment growth in the Mekong The Mekong region contains some of today's most dynamic ASEAN economies. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states include Brunei Darussalam, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. All of these economies, with the exception of Thailand, are overcoming legacies of heavy-handed centralized governments in which the private sector had a very limited role. Since the 1990s, foreign investment and a vast pool of workers have catapulted the economies of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and more recently Burma, to the category of fastest growing low-income countries. Their garment, electronics, food processing, and other industries have rapidly joined global value chains and employed millions of workers. As these countries continue their fast economic transformation, generating more jobs with better working conditions for the growing numbers of youth is becoming a major challenge. Upgrading skills, improving working conditions The project will help address this challenge. It will support a regional network of researchers to examine current policies and practices to upgrade skills and improve working conditions for young, low-skilled workers, mainly women and those belonging to ethnic communities. The Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI), a leading think tank, will be the network's hub. It will launch a first-ever competitive research call for up to 12 research ideas from other regional think tanks and non-governmental organizations. Some of the sub-projects will include pilot ideas that can be scaled up in the future. CDRI will oversee the research and link it to the wider community of policymakers, private sector, and civil society in the Greater Mekong region and ASEAN.

Project ID


Project status


End Date

Thursday, July 18, 2019


36 months

IDRC Officer

Gillian Dowie

Total funding

CA$ 1,029,600


Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam


Employment and Growth

Project Leader

Chhem Rethy


The Cambodia Development Resource Institute

Institution Country


Institution Website