after getting vocational training it was easy to earn good money.
Most students strongly agree that a university education is crucial for their future. After graduating from high school, they enter university to pursue their studies by choosing majors, or subjects, they prefer such as law, information technology, economics, management and so forth. They pay some school fees for their bachelor’s degree over a four-year period.
Those who cannot afford to go to a university or are not interested in getting an education at a higher level are able to attend vocational training, which is traditionally non-academic and focuses on a particular skill, such as sewing or making technical repairs.
There are vocational training centres throughout the country, teaching people how to repair motors, electronics, hairdressing and make-up, clothing and cooking.
Kong Kolline, a master craftsman and also a trainer at the Socheat Beauty School where students’ studíes include steaming, styling hair, skin polishing and nail decorating, said her students were a mix of people from the countryside and those who live in the city.
“They cannot catch up with school lessons and some think they only have to spend a little time doing vocational training and they can earn a living by opening their own business,” said Kong Kolline.
This idea was echoed by Chhun Chhea, 26, who came to Phnom Penh from Takeo province to learn how to become a mechanic and fix cars. Chhun Chhea said he had spent one year at university and he stopped to learn how to repair cars and then started working in this field after studying for one year.
“I quit studying at university because I didn’t have enough money and my brain seems not to be designed for studying,” said Chhun Chhea, who explained that he faced some challenges because he had never had to use his mechanical skills before, but he had adjusted and now loved this job.
He said that after getting vocational training it was easy to earn good money, not like working in an administrative office job where people earned little money.
“I just repair a small part which doesn’t take long and I get $5 to $6 or more than that,” he said, adding that completing a university course takes a long time, but people who join the workforce also have to learn new skills, and he is now on his way to opening his own garage.
The Vimean Tep Technical School opened more than 20 years ago and has more than 200 students now studying there. It is a vocational training center in Phnom Penh where students can learn skills that include how to repair cars, motors, phones, televisions, radios, electronics and air-conditioners.
Chab Siphat, a director and trainer at Vimean Tep Technical School, said the number of students studying at his school keeps increasing because people see that their graduates are getting jobs. “Vocational subjects are easy to earn money from, take little time, cost less money and can help you earn a living for life, the same as those who go to study at university,” said Chab Siphat, who added that those who cannot read or write can still learn skills, although it gets hard for them to remember things if they cannot write things down or read.
At Vimean Tep Technical School, students can learn how to repair motors by spending only US$120, or they can spend $350 and learn how to repair telephones.
Lao Heum, the director of the department of Technical and Vocational Education and Training at the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, said vocational training is a good way to reduce unemployment and poverty in the country because vocational training enables youth to gain enough ability and capacity to enter the work force.
“We need only one or two engineers if we want to construct a building, while we cannot hire only one or two construction workers or technicians to build it, so we need a lot of vocational workers in the country,” said Lao Heum.
According to the Labor and Social Trends in Cambodia 2010 report from the National Institute of Statistics, with support from the International Labour Organisation, the Kingdom “desperately requires” skilled labour – such as mechanics, electrical technicians and workers in the hospitality industry – that is where the bulk of employment is being created.
“Most young people in Cambodia are studying majors such as accounting and management, which is also good, but if more and more people go into these fields, finding jobs will become more and more difficult,” said Tun Sophorn, a National Coordinator for Cambodia at the International Labour Organisation.
“I want the media as well as the relevant institutions to help broadcast the fact that parents should guide their children to study skills according to the marketplace and not just follow one another so they will not face problems in finding a job,” said Lao Heum.