A three-year vocational training project aimed at creating employment opportunities in the electronics industry while eliminating electronics waste, or e-waste, wrapped up yesterday, with its organisers calling for more funding in order to continue its training component.
The United Nations Industrial Organization (UNIDO) launched the $1.35 million e-waste management project in 2012 with funding from South Korea’s development agency, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and electronics giant Samsung Electronics.
Sok Chea Hak, national project coordinator of UNIDO, said the public-private partnership provided training to 241 youth and trainers in Phnom Penh, as well as in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap and Kampong Cham provinces.
Beneficiaries received instruction on electronic installation and repair services involving mobile phones, air conditioners, television sets, refrigerators and washing machines.
“This project provides job opportunities and business management skills, and enhances knowledge related to the electronics industry,” said Hak. “The trainees gain awareness of e-waste and how it impacts environment and health.”
He said UNIDO’s vocational-training project accomplished its underlying goal of promoting economic and environmental sustainability. Its program strengthened the capacity of youth to support the elimination of e-waste while increasing employment and business opportunities in the electronics repair and recycling industry, he added.
“As the result, some trainees got jobs and others enhanced their repair businesses, which allowed them to increase their incomes,” said Hak, who appealed to donors to finance a second phase of the project.
Of the 241 trainees, 20 per cent were electronics repair shop owners who reported that their monthly income has doubled since joining the program.
Orm Vannchouy, a 28-year-old mobile phone technician from Siem Reap, said he gained new skills in the program that would allow him to improve his income.
“I improved my electronics skills a lot and now I can fix many different kinds of phones,” he said.
Vannchouy said he now earns $20 per day repairing mobile phones, and hopes to further increase this by acquiring additional skills.
“I am trying to research how to recover precious metals such as gold and platinum from a phone’s circuit board,” he said, adding that small bits of metal in discarded electronics components carry significant value.
Another of the program’s trainees, 30-year-old Phroeurn Phirun from Siem Reap, received training on air conditioner repair. He said the program not only provided hands-on skills, but he also learned how to communicate more effectively.
“What I got from the course was not only the skills, but communication strategies with clients,” he said. “I have more confidence now. And when clients trust my skills, I gain more income.”