Grade-12 students have just graduated and are now preparing for college. We wanted to see what subjects are popular and which ones can lead to actual jobs upon graduating college.
According to statistics from Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, in the 2010-2011 academic, 20,289 students chose to study accounting, the second-most popular area of focus after English.
However, according statistics from the National Employment Agency, while those seeking accounting, audit and taxation jobs constituted 13.5 per cent of job seekers, such jobs only represented 5.8 per cent of employer needs. Sineth Kim, who just completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting, expressed regret for choosing to study a subject that wasn’t her passion.
She said, “I studied accounting because I thought there would be more jobs available. Also, it is my sister career and, due to family financial problems, I had to earn money as soon as possible.”
Other subjects, such as chemistry, physics, biology, design, geography, sociology, psychology, fine arts and public administration, on the other hand, are less popular, each with less than 1,000 students in the academic year 2010-2011.
After finishing grade-12 in 2003, Chanrith Phoeurk continued studying chemistry at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, hoping to become a teacher. However, in the third year, she chose to study biochemistry, which also resulted in her changing her career plans.
She says, “For me, yes at first I thought that I just wanted to be a teacher at high school, but now I want to be a lecturer at university, and run some research projects as a scientific researcher as well.”
Professor Som Chan Sovandara, the vice director of the psychology department at the Royal University, explained that students who graduate from psychology can go on to work for NGOs, hospitals, government ministries, schools or universities, and private companies.
“In the Cambodian context, there are a lot of jobs available for psychology students,” Chan Sovandara said. “After students defend their theses, a number of NGOs come and select the best students to work.”
Getting enough information before choosing the appropriate subject is really important. Any wrong decision can result in a loss of a year, two years, or even four.
Raksmey Mony Koum had selected environmental studies upon graduating high school after her father called the Royal School of Phnom Penh to find out more information.
“I like the environment, international studies and accounting, but I chose environmental studies because I know that only 30 scholarship students are allowed each year and in the future there will be more openings for this on the job market,” she said.
Kieng Rotana, vice president of Pannasastra University of Cambodia, showed the advantages of choosing non-popular subjects.
He said, “Students who choose subjects that few are interested in will easily get a high income since its demand in the market, and then the subject will also become popular.”
Finally, Rotana advises all students not to choose their major because of what their friends choose but should consult with experts or school advisers. It’s important, he says, to know yourself and your strengths when choosing an area to study.