LABOUR Minister Vorng Soth urged his officials to boost vocational training opportunities for low-skilled workers at the start of a two-day Ministry of Labour conference Tuesday.
"We must increase vocational training to boost skills such as carpentry, lathe operation, bricklaying, masonry and office skills," he said. "We must pay special consideration to those youth who have no capability to study at university and other vulnerable people.
"If our people, including workers and youth, have the right skills they can find a good job."
His comments came as fears are mounting that Cambodia faces rising unemployment due to reduced demand for Cambodia's exports, particularly garments, due to the global economic crisis.
Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, told the Post Tuesday that 30 factories employing 27,000 workers closed in 2008.
Vorng Soth was short on details as to how vocational training would be boosted.
Vocational training has long been identified as a national strategy for poverty alleviation. A Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) program was established as part of the "2003 Rectangular Strategy for growth, labour, equity and effectiveness in Cambodia".
It aimed to boost vocational training through, among other things, the development of a national qualification framework and standards.
According to labour Secretary of State Khann Morn, 45 public TVET institutions were operating in the 2007-08 fiscal year, 36 directly supervised by the ministry. There were also 209 private or NGO TVET institutions.
Khann Morn acknowledged that the number of students attending TVET institutions was small compared to those attending universities and that vocational training still faced major challenges. These included a lack of value placed on training, especially by employer's, many of whom require applicants to at least have a bachelors degree, and a paucity of training institutes in many provinces.