Promoting Vocational Training as an Economic Drive

Promoting Vocational Training as an Economic Drive

Developing Partnerships to Support High Quality Skills Training Programs

By Dr. Sovathana Sokhom

On 7th November 2013, Dr. Sovathana Sokhom (Vice President for Academic Affairs) participated in the “Promoting Vocational Training as an Economic Drive Developing Partnerships to Support High Quality Skills Training Programs,” organized by the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports and supported by Development partners which had been included in the Education Strategic Plan (ESP, 2009- 2013) and approved by the Royal Government of Cambodia in September 2010.

The program’s objectives were to expand participants’ understanding of emerging and potential new directions for Cambodia’s job market and economic development, with focus on light manufacturing, infrastructure, and the hospitality sector. Also, to share information and insights about the importance of high quality vocational and technical education as a driver for Cambodia’s future economic growth. And, to promote vocational and technical training through partnerships among educational institutions and with the business community.

According to the government policy, there are two tracks used to address Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) concerns:

  • Track 1 focuses on the basic skills for the rural poor to improve family income and help reduce poverty.
  • Track 2 focuses higher level industrial development skills. It is setup to meet industrial demand for qualified skilled labor workforce.

The skills training programs offered by these two tracks include formal and non-formal training methodologies and funding support could be obtained through the Samdech Techo Fund or the National Training Fund.

Formal Training Courses

  • Certifi cate Level I, II, and III
  • Diploma Degree
  • Bachelor Degree

Non-Formal Training

  • Skills Bridging Program
  • Apprenticeship Training
  • Voucher Skill Training Program
  • Special Training Needs
  • Post-harvest Technology

However, according to a 2010 World Bank report, TVET Institutes face many challenges including matching employees’ skills with employers’ demand – there is disconnection between what the employers need and training provided. While 77 per cent of employers express their willingness to contribute technically to the TVET curriculum development, 86 per cent are reluctant to make financial contribution. Some 45 per cent of employers widely recognized the lack of dialogue to improve matters, while 21 per cent perceived low benefits of cooperating. Poor curriculum, poor linkages, lack of quality lecturers, inadequate infrastructure, and lack of funding were also cited as obstacles to TVET development in Cambodia.

With that being said, in a 2008 survey by the International Labor Organization and the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations (CAMFEBA) showed that 50 per cent of high school students intended to continue their academic studies at the university level, 30 per cent aims to find jobs, 17 per centintends to study in TVET institutions, while the other 2 per cent will help their family.

The University of Cambodia could capitalize on TVET program by strengthening the curriculum development in both the College of Management and the College of Science and Technology to target private sector’s needs. The aim in doing so is to attract the 50 per cent of high school students who intends to pursue higher education at the university level. The University could also push forth an international language center focus on various international business languages used throughout the world.

All-in-all, I believe that the above should be strategically linked to UC Career Development Center. Where the Career Development Center’s function can be to help prepare students for the job market and link job market demand with university labor supply.