Van Sou Ieng, president of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (L) and Gregory Clemente, director of AFD’s Asia department. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post
The Garment Manufacturer’s Association in Cambodia (GMAC) signed a $3.5 million loan agreement with French international development agency Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) yesterday to build Cambodia’s first garment sector training school.
The school will train Cambodia’s unskilled garment workers and other Cambodians who wish to undertake high level work in garment factories in order to cancel out the high labour costs of employing people from abroad, Van Sou Ieng, president of GMAC, said at the signing ceremony.
He said that so far, most Cambodians working in the garment industry are unskilled, limiting them to just cutting the cloth and sewing the garments. Meanwhile, for technical work, people need to be recruited from abroad at a higher cost.
“For technical work and higher positions in the industry, we always hire foreigners to come and work in Cambodia as we don’t have qualified Cambodians,” he said. “This signing ceremony is to build the school to train Cambodian workers to get the qualifications for higher positions in the factories and to manage the workers,” he added.
“I hope that the school will train Cambodian people to gain skills in order to work at a high level in the industry where we normally hire from abroad – at merchandising, merchant control [levels] – some other technical work,” said Sou Ieng.
Kain Monika, GMAC business development manager, told reporters that the loan, which has a repayment period of 15 years, will be used to build a school located in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone and construction will take about two years. Presently, most of the foreign workers come from China, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The school will be open to all Cambodians and young graduates who want to work at higher levels or positions in the industry, said Kain Monika.
Technical teachers will be hired from abroad. It is a non-profit school, but the fees will be used to cover daily operations, and ensure the sustainability of the school.
According to data from GMAC, 500 garment factories are registered members with the association, employing more than 500,000 workers.
Cambodia’s total garment and textile exports increased slightly at around 10 per cent to $3.44 billion over the first nine months of the year, compared to $3.13 billion over the same period last year, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.
To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at [email protected]