Prime Minister Hun Sen suggested that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport discuss cooperation aimed at providing traditional vocational training to more than 1.5 million poor students for the purpose of developing the national knowledge-based economy.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony for students from the Human Resource University (HRU) on February 20, the premier told education minister Hang Chuon Naron to start discussions with the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.

The traditional professions, which accounts for two to four per cent of employment, are weaving, sculpting, painting, pottery and other ancestral skills, in addition to some professions that have already been filled.

“Thus, this training can be deployed partly to vocational schools run by the labour ministry and partly to ancestral heritage programmes administered by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts,” he said.

According to the prime minister, poor students who receive vocational training will not be required to pay tuition fees and will also receive state cash assistance while in school. At the same time, he also told Chuon Naron to check the number of schools that have been providing vocational training to students at present and to encourage further training.

He added that the vocational training is to enable poor students in the country to have the right profession to serve the nation’s “rapid development” in order to accelerate the growth of a national economy based on knowledge, which will begin within the professional framework in 2024.

Education ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha could not be reached for comment on February 20.

Sou Chhlonh, vice-president of the Building and Woodworkers’ Trade Union Federation of Cambodia, suggested that in addition to traditional professional training, the government should increase vocational training on a number of key skills such as electrical work, plumbing and construction techniques because the construction sector in Cambodia is growing.

“Training on all these skills provides higher returns than the traditional professions being practised by local villagers,” he said.