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CGTI upskills garment workers amid Covid

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Cambodia Garment Training Center Institute (CGTI) centre director Andrew Tey. Photo supplied

CGTI upskills garment workers amid Covid

Established in September 2017, Cambodia Garment Training Center Institute (CGTI), an initiative of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), has been making an active effort to provide training in a bid to improve skills and productivity in the Kingdom’s garment and textile industry.

The Covid-19 pandemic, however, has caused extreme interruptions in regional and global supply chains and production, and upended people’s lives in countless ways across the world.

The government is finalising a Draft Development Strategy for the Garment, Footwear and Bag Sectors in Cambodia for 2020-2025, according to GMAC. This is the latest in a slew of other measures put in place by the government to protect the domestic garment industry during the health crisis.

CGTI centre director Andrew Tey discussed Covid’s implications for the CGTI’s training initiatives and its role in boosting the skills and productivity of Cambodian workers in the industry, in a virtual interview with The Post’s May Kunmakara.

What has the CGTI been up to during the ongoing health crisis?

The most critical period hit our strategic plans and business hard. But since 2020, we’ve adopted an online training scheme, using Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams and Zoom to continue providing virtual training to GMAC members and our diploma students.

During the lockdown, we were still using the online platforms to continue the outreach of our training programme to areas and factories not affected by the restrictive measures. We adopted WFH (work from home) practices, using Cloud services to store our training materials and allow our trainers to conduct training during the trying times.

It is difficult to make ends meet during this current situation, and we proceeded to adopt a “Lean” methodology and apply its “continuous improvement” concept on our workflow and the digital processes involved in our job, using Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams.

During this period, we’ve taken the opportunity to develop new courses and enhance our trainers’ skills. Our programme team will continue reaching out to GMAC members and promoting online training even during lockdown periods, partially supported by the SDF (Skills Development Fund).

And how goes the institute’s mission of improving skills in the industry?

In January, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training upgraded our diploma programme to an advanced diploma programme, equal to an associate degree. Training periods have been extended from four to six months, increasing the number of modules required to complete the programme from 14 to 23.

We have seven additional courses that are due to be accredited by the ministry by early June – this is another milestone in the improvement of the quality of our courses and achieving the national standards.

These courses are – sewing operator, sewing supervisor enhance training, certified safety executive, certified environment executive, advanced certificate in merchandiser, advanced certificate in industrial engineering, and advanced certificate in quality and production.

Ensuring that our courses are competent and meet international standards, CGTI has been accredited by ISO 17024:2015 since 2021. We also invite relevant public and private companies to join our ISO Advisory Board, comprised of the ministry, factories, buyers and NGOs.

Currently our training courses are divided into the following areas – technical, ISO programme, safety and environment executive, “Lean” manufacturing and soft skills, with 90 short courses on offer.

How does the government’s Draft Development Strategy for the Garment, Footwear and Bag Sectors in Cambodia play into CGTI’s plans?

Before the government launched this strategy, GMAC and CGTI had worked out the skills required and improvements for our sector. That’s the reason we’ve developed the “sewing operator upskilling” and “certified sewing operator” skills level and “sewing supervisor upskilling” programme. It’d be great if the government could adopt this training programme to national standards, and set a skills competency level for our sector.

To continue support and improve our skills level in this sector, CGTI has signed a public-private partnership memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the ministry’s Directorate General of Technical and Vocational Education and Training to collaborate on designing the Standard Training Package (STD), among other things.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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