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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Graduates lacking skills: report

Graduates lacking skills: report

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About 50 per cent of Cambodian university students studied business management, but still don’t meet the private sector’s demand. Photograph: Heng Chiovan/Phnom Penh Post

EVEN though about 50 per cent of Cambodian university students studied business management, the banking sector has been hesitant to recruit them, insiders said yesterday.

A 2010 report by the recruitment agency HRINC (Cambodia) projected that the supply of business, marketing, management, banking and finance, economics and accounting students would be more than double the demand.

The study predicted 103,000 graduates would be available, but there would be fewer than 46,000 jobs for them.

A recent case study by Universiti Malaysia Kelanta explored “the gap between the business management curriculum and employability” in the Cambodian banking sector.

After interviews with two curriculum designers and four recruiters, the report’s authors, Hum Chan, Abdul Aziz Ab Latif and Yohan Kurniawan, found why this gap exists.

“The study identified . . . loose enforcement of educational policy and law on nurturing the relationship between universities and industry in developing curriculum; a misperception among universities and the industry about skills development in the curriculum; a scarcity of resources in implementing the business management curriculum; and an information gap between university and industry to develop and update the business management curriculum,” they wrote.

Employers had confirmed that lots of training needed to be done, OSK Group country head Lim Loong Seng told the Post.

“We are concerned with the rampant pinching of staff by some new entrants, which has aggravated the very limited supply of talent and affected the depth and skill sets of these young professionals who need more training and exposure to undertake heavier responsibilities in the increasingly more sophisticated financial service industries,” Seng said.

“The industry would be open to risk without a sufficient supply and depth of professionals with the right skill sets and experience.”

 Acleda bank executive vice-president and chief financial officer Chhay Soeun said this was the reason Acleda preferred to train its own staff.

“Acleda has its own centre where we train our national and international employees for one month. After that, they practise their new-found knowledge for three months in the field,” Soeun said yesterday.

“Graduates have a basic knowledge that simplifies the training, but in our experience competence doesn’t depend on having a university degree.

“That knowledge isn’t very important. As long as employees are bright and their parents have educated them well, they can learn quickly.”

Blaming universities was not a solution, Cambodian Economic Association president Chan Sophal said.

“I think [the problem] is not just the curriculum, but the general standard of teaching and learning,” he said.

“Students come to university with a poor education background from school and work, or study several subjects at the same time.”

Sophal said another problem was the mismatch between the subjects graduates studied and their employment in a different sector.

Seng Bun Thoeun, vice di-rector of the National University of Management, wants to solve this issue.

“Our university held a workshop with about 50 participants, also from the private sector, in early February to adjust the curriculum to the sector’s demands,” he said.

“Before, the exchange with the private sector was very limited, but that’s what we’re looking to improve.”

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