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Education for the economy

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Graduates listen to Prime Minister Hun Sen speak yesterday at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh.

Some 300,000 young Cambodians are entering the domestic labour market every year, but often don’t have the skill sets required by private sector employers, UN Development Programme Deputy Country Director Sophie Baranes said yesterday.

Improving human capital in Cambodia requires a concentrated effort by stakeholders such as government, private sector and education institutions, she said.

“In order to succeed, a sustainable programme of training, or higher education reform, is needed.”

Yesterday, the UNDP in conjunction with the government issued a report titled Human Capital Implications of Future Economic Growth in Cambodia, aiming to provide a roadmap to building up high quality human capital to boost the economy.

“At present, there exists a significant gap between market demand and the skills available, and existing educational institutions and curricula are often unresponsive to market demands and the need of the private sector,” the report said.

Supreme National Economic Council Deputy Secretary General Hav Ratank said the government had prioritised human resource development.

Cambodia’s intention to develop its industry requires simultaneous human capital development, he said.

Although there is much work still to be done, Hav Ratanak highlighted work done by the government to improve the situation.

He noted the education budget had increased 8 times over in the 10 years from 2000 to 2010, and added certain measures had been adopted following the global economic crisis to promote employment.

So far, the programmes have assisted 40,000 laid-off workers find employment, he said.

“Indeed, it’s necessary for the government [to assist on human capital development] … but it needs wide cooperation from all the stakeholders and development partners,” he said.

The report laid out a number of short- and long-term recommendations, ranging from stopping school drop-outs to improving vocational training and reforming higher education.

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