Cambodia's tertiary system is not producing enough of the right type of graduates to meet the economy’s demands, says a report launched by the World Bank last week.
The 222-page report, titled “Putting Higher Education to Work”, states that “quantity gaps are particularly strong in Cambodia’s manufacturing sector”, where tertiary graduates can recoup increasingly higher salaries and there is a “very low and stagnant” workforce of university graduates.
The report suggests that Cambodia needs to diversify its tertiary curriculum options, or face unemployed graduates and a shortfall for the manufacturing sector’s labour demands.
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An echoed similar concerns at the Asia-Pacific Quality Network Conference and Annual General Meeting last week.
“Cambodia still has an unbalanced disciplinary structure: 66 per cent of students graduating in social sciences, business, or law, whilst most university graduates (are) going into technical and professional occupations,” he said.
More science and technology graduates are needed, to fuel innovation, job creation and faster economic development, he added.
The government had introduced a number of measures in response, including the National Training Board to oversee technical vocational education and training, he said.
The report also flags the disparity of ethnic minorities in accessing tertiary education as “most apparent” in Cambodia of all the East Asian nations.
The Khmer majority dominated tertiary enrollment by a ratio of eight to one, and their completion rates were significantly higher than minorities.
Females also suffer from inequity in access to tertiary education, but not as acutely as ethnic minorities and those in the lower income quintile, the report says .
However, poor English skills was not the number one obstacle to working with graduates here, unlike Cambodia’s neighbours, where a lack of English was the top hinderance, the report states.