TRAINING YOUTH FOR EMPLOYMENT IN CAMBODIAPublished: Jan 7, 2021 Reading time: 3 minutes
Cambodia’s youth face unique challenges when it comes to finding work. More than 80% of the nation’s recent graduates lack required skills, just under 14 percent have received any form of appropriate training, roughly 14 percent have completed primary school, and only five percent completed university.
To help Cambodia’s young people gain stable employment, People in Need (PIN) has partnered with Cambodian government institutions to launch the “Fostering Transition to Employment for Youth” project (FTE 4 Youth). The goal is to equip the nation’s youngest jobseekers with skills relevant to the current job market. Funded by the Czech Development Cooperation, the project is being piloted at Kampong Chhnang’s Provincial Training Centre (PTC).
New equipment makes for better training
Ly Chanrith, director of the Kampong Chhnang PTC, says that before the project, “The centre was dull. We had outdated equipment for courses in automotive repairing, air conditioning, ITC/business, electrical equipment, and sewing, which resulted in a low rate of attendance. Students were demotivated, and would even drop out without completing the courses.”
To improve education at the centre – and thereby the employability of the youth being trained there –PIN worked on upgrading the PTC’s equipment to reflect the reality of the local working environment, and answer to the needs of the private sector.
Uong Chanith, a teacher of information technology at PTC, says: “The new equipment makes it easier to teach. For instance, the new computers are faster and enable us to use better software. I told my students that they are fortunate to be enrolled right now, because the new equipment is ready to use and the room has also been equipped with air conditioning.”
In 2020, a total of 1,792 students, the majority female, received technical training at PTC in sectors ranging from ITC to livestock production. This was a big jump in attendance and marked an important step toward the provision of a more inclusive and equitable education and a better-qualified youth labor force.
To help ensure the quality of the courses, the teachers received a series of trainings on soft skills such as communication and pedagogy, in addition to trainings in technical skills. This helped improve the learning environment for students and ensure they could compete in a variety of business sectors.
Bridging the gap
Public private partnerships are key to better employment opportunities in Cambodia. However, since there is a disconnect between the Cambodian private sector and the country’s PTCs, there is often a mismatch between the skills of new graduates and potential employers. The private sector has also had little trust in the capabilities of young technical and vocational education and training (TVET) graduates.
Luna Aubree, PIN’s Programme Manager, says: “We strive to strengthen the cooperation between TVET institutes and private companies, micro-finance institutions, specialized universities, and relevant local experts to improve job opportunities, facilitate financial inclusion, and support entrepreneurship for rural youths.”
PIN’s efforts to connect the Kampong Chhnang PTC with the private sector through coordinated meetings created better career opportunities for graduates. The PTC’s staff and students were invited to participate in study tours and exchange visits to well-established companies in fields such as electrical repairs, automotive work, ITC, and air conditioning. These exchanges helped students and educators better understand current and future workplace demands.
Private companies, including RMA group, one of the largest multinational companies in Cambodia, also offered internships or apprenticeship programmes. Partnerships with microfinance institutions (MFI) also gave a number of youth in rural Cambodia the incentive to start their own businesses, as young graduates are able to access low-cost loans from local MFIs with reasonable interest rates and fewer conditions.
Lon Malyna, a PTC student, says: “It is very important for us as students to experience and learn about the current market demand and real working environment and, most importantly, to have access to financing to kickstart our small businesses after graduating from PTC.”