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Engineering, science studies seen as way forward for youth

Vocational training and engineering and science education are crucial to the future of Cambodia’s youth if the country hopes to capitalise on new agricultural and industrial opportunities, education specialists said yesterday.

A panel of government officials and UNDP, ILO and UNESCO representatives spoke to journalists at Better Factories Cambodia ahead of the nation’s first National Youth Employment forum, which will be held tomorrow and Friday at the capital’s Phnom Penh Hotel.

Seng Sakda, director general of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, said it was important to give young people skills relevant to Cambodia’s labour market.

“The education, skills and employment of Cambodia’s young people are critical for the growth of the economy,” he said. “This event will address youth employment before a national employment policy is implemented.”

The forum will bring together UN officials, international policymakers, civil society representatives and youths to discuss youth unemployment, education and skills development, business opportunities and emerging industries.

Tauch Choeun, director general of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, said the government was focused on equipping school students with vocational skills. This was partly a response, he said, to the number of university graduates who were being “mismatched” into employment that did not suit their qualifications due to a lack of jobs in certain fields.

Jose Bendito, economic development policy adviser with UNDP Cambodia, said many young people were seeking white-collar opportunities that Cambodia’s labour market couldn’t offer everyone, while few were given the chance to study engineering and science –  disciplines essential to expanding industry.

Another issue, the panelists said, was the importance of creating enough jobs to ensure young people didn’t feel forced to leave the country for work.

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