Thousands of local managers will be trained for the garment sector at a
new facility that the industry hopes will reduce the need for foreign
A garment factory in Phnom Penh. The industry hopes to train more local managers.
THOUSANDS of Cambodians may be ready to run the country's garment factories in the next few years with the launch of Cambodia's first national training centre.
Housed at the National Technical Training Institute (NTTI) in Phnom Penh, the facility will offer management courses to workers with more than two years' experience in the industry beginning later this year. Funding will be provided by the government, the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations (CAMFEBA) and the French Development Agency (AFD).
Cambodia's garment sector employs about 320,000 on factory floors, but very few of the country's estimated 10,000 managers are local.
Most are parachuted in from Asian countries, and the lack of a local management base is a serious challenge for factories, which struggle with language and cultural barriers.
Pich Sophorn, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, said at the launch of the institute Thursday that it will increase the quality and productivity of the sector.
"Productivity in the garment sector is still low, so it is difficult for us to compete with neighbouring countries," he said.
"We hope that in three years' time, this national institute will produce at least 8,000 highly skilled workers to replace foreign workers," he said.
Pich Sophorn said that a stronger skills base will encourage garment sector investment.
"We are trying to produce qualified and productive workers to boost economic growth and reduce poverty," he said.
Cambodia's labour force stands at about eight million, 60 percent of which are employed in agriculture, 27 percent in services and 13 percent in industry.
Van Sou Ieng, president of CAMFEBA, said Thursday that the training centre will play a role in boosting Cambodia's competitiveness in a challenging economy.
"We have about 10,000 foreign workers including technical engineering and service sectors," said Van Sou Ieng, who is also head of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC).
in three years' time, this ... institute will produce 8,000 high skilled workers.
He said that the country needs about seven years to produce 10,000 qualified workers.
He said that many factories would be willing to finance tuition and recruit candidates directly from schools.
"We hope that this institute will produce qualified, productive and competitive human resources in the garment industry," Van Sou Ieng said.
About 270 factories are operating in Cambodia as GMAC members.
Many young and educated Cambodians have shunned the garment sector and see it as less prestigious. But Van Sou Ieng said that better training could improve the image of the sector in the eyes of youths.
"Developing the right and appropriate educational and training curriculums is not only important for employers, but also for youth to secure sustainable income and be productive economic contributors to society," he said.
Cambodia's large youth population makes job creation a government priority.
Since 1999, between 200,000 and 250,000 have entered the job market each year, but only 67,000 new jobs were created yearly from 1999 to 2004 - absorbing about 27 percent of the new job market entrants.
"This is a very low absorption rate resulting from a mismatch between the supply and demand in skills due to the lack of data and information on the labour market," Van Sou Ieng said.
Tun Sophorn, of the International Labour Organisation in Cambodia, said that garment industry skills training is hard to come by in Cambodia.
"If we had local people as leaders, we hope it can help reduce labour disputes," he said.
A survey by CAMFEBA funded by the Norwegian government shows that 96 percent of employers require higher education when hiring professional staff, with 72 percent requiring bachelor's or master's degrees.
Only 13 percent said that graduates have all or most of the skills they need for work.