F OR those unemployed local women looking for a toehold in the capital's burgeoning hospitality industry, Apheda (Australian People for Health, Education and Development Abroad), an Australian NGO, has an answer. The NGO's two-year-old training and placement program has helped unemployed Cambodian women find work experience placements in the hospitality trade.
The $25,000 program helps the women get four months theoretical training with a two week placement program in between. Although the course is free, the unemployed trainees need to be able to survive from day to day.
Apheda helps out by giving them a daily allowance, which Sandra Rogers, Apheda Hospitality Course Coordinator, described as being 'very generous'. She has placed eleven trainees at various establishments on the current hospitality training course, the sixth since the program started in 1992.
One trainee, 22-year-old Irrang Mao, is spending her first week behind the bar at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Cambodia.
"A friend of mine told me about the course. Since leaving school in 1992, I have been unemployed. It is very difficult for me to obtain work because I am an orphan.
"I live with four friends in Takhmau and they helped me financially so that I could attend the course training in Phnom Penh," she said. Before being admitted to the course, Mao had to pass a written test in English and an oral interview. During the first two months of her training, Mao learned English with Sandra Rogers as well as learning about the hospitality skills she will be using.
Regarding her placement at the FCC, the young woman said: "My shift starts at 7 am and I finish at 3:30 pm. I have learned to take orders, sell, wash and clean glasses. I pour the coffee and have learned how to pull draught beer. Next I want to learn to make cocktails.
"After that, I will spend a week at a hotel. After my training is over, I will look for a job," she said.
Sandra Rogers explains why the skills are so important: "For our students, having a job is a new concept. They have to learn to go to work every day, to turn up on time, to explain to an employer why they didn't show up for work the previous day if they were sick. These are ideas that we need to get across."