A new youth centre with a difference opened in February, near Wat Bo Road. Youth Employment Services (YES) Center gives young people careers advice, ‘soft skills’ training and a place to drop in and study.
The centre was started by Italian NGO Progetto Continenti, in response to the increasing problem of youth unemployment.
A major problem identified in a survey by the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Businesses was a lack of ‘soft skills’: confidence, social skills, plus qualities like the ability to problem solve.
“The background research we did told us that the big demand for employers was not so much technical skills, it’s these soft skills,” says Yes Center consultant Shaun Kennedy.
So rather than provide vocational training, Yes teaches soft skills through a combination of activities, courses and workshops.
“We thought we would create a youth centre; a friendly place where people can hang out. They can bring their friends, they can do homework, use the computers. But while they’re here, all the activities we do are related to employment – for example how to write a good CV,” Kennedy says. “We put vacancies on the notice-board.”
Information manager Mam Vannary adds, “We train people how to prepare themselves before they go for an interview. We do role play.” Yes also plans to take its members on work experience days;
“We might get a group of young people who are interested in working in a hotel, but they don’t really know what it’s like,” says Kennedy. “So we bring them there and spend the day showing them the different types of jobs. It’s just raising their awareness.
“We also help people access labour market information. One of the problems, especially in the rural areas, is that people don’t know where to get information about vacancies, training opportunities or scholarships. Our idea is that we are a venue where all the information is provided in one place.” Yes soon hopes to provide a job agency service to employers, free to its members. “We want to have a job placement service where we try to place our youth members who are looking for work, but we don’t charge the young people – we charge the employer,” says Kennedy.
Yes has already had two success stories in the short time it’s been operating, with one member finding a cleaning job, and another getting work as a translator.