But other students continue to rely more on connections, employment agencies to find jobs
Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON
Universities say that banks and other leading employers are actively recruiting their top graduates, while employment agencies are an option for other students trying to land a good job.
Many banks and other companies are going beyond advertising job vacancies actively recruiting top university graduates, says Seng Bun Theoun, vice rector of the National University of Management (NUM). Some companies ask the university for a list of outstanding students and invite the top students to a seminar on employment opportunities and how to write a strong CV.
NUM, which has about 12,000 students enrolled in nine faculties, including finance and banking, management, and tourism and hospitality, also maintains an office for helping students find work and invites speakers from banks and other companies to talk about the job market, employment opportunities and job-seeking strategies, Seng Bun Theoun said.
"I can say that 1,550 employees of Acleda Bank, 10 percent of National Bank of Cambodia employees and most of PriceWaterhouseCoopers are former students of NUM," he said.
The university's curriculum emphasises English language ability and computer skills in all its academic majors. The university also encourages students to get hands-on experience before graduating by seeking internships in companies, shifting academic schedules to evening hours in order to facilitate part-time jobs during the day, and helping students obtain scholarships to study abroad.
Employers are also getting into the act, seeking to develop their own talent pools.
K-Cement, for instance, has provided scholarships to seven students to study management and engineering in Thailand.
Employment agency option
Some graduates also try to find their own jobs, but with mixed results.
Siev Sosikha, 21 a recent graduate of Norton University, majored in communication and hoped to find work as a researcher. She searched two websites, www.khmer.ws and www.bongthom.com. "I'm not aware of any other ways to find a good job beside these two websites and asking friends if they no of any jobs available for me," she said.
Ork Sovannaroth, 21, a second-year student at Build Bright University, said he has learned a lot about CV writing during a job as a word processor but admitted he lacked the ability to ferret out a job on his own.
"I trust my family connections will be able to find me a job," he said.
Cambodian youth frequently use their network of extended family and friends to find employment but other strategies needed to be practiced, said Sandra D'Amico, managing director of employment agency HR Inc.
If you study accounting, it doesn’t mean you have to become an accountant. If you study management, it doesn't mean you become a manager....
"Access to information and access to opportunity is one of biggest challenges in the job market. People don't know, young students don't know, where to go to find a job," said D'Amico.
HR Inc estimates that is has helped thousands of job seekers find employment since it began offering its services three years ago. The agency has connections with many national and multi-international companies and NGOs looking to recruit qualified employees and staff, D'Amico said.
Some companies have started working more closely with universities, especially in such fields as engineering and architecture in which there are few students but in which skills are in high demand. Many other students, however, are disappointed after spending several years studying a particular field only to find little demand for their skills on the job market, D'Amico said.
"If you study accounting, it doesn't means you have to become an accountant," said D'Amico. "If you study management, it doesn't mean you become a manager, right? Because there are many types of mangers....
"What students need to realise is that you can apply what you've learned."
The quality of human resources in Cambodia today were about equal to international levels, D'Amico added. Local university graduates as well as students who have studied abroad were being recruited by national and multinational companies.
"I don't think the job market demand is for international education or local education," she said. "I think that employer demand at the movement is very much about skills."
HR Inc recruitment manager David Symansky, however, said some employers were actually looking to recruit candidates who have studied abroad because they want to recruit people with international exposure and believe that such candidates will have better English skills.
Ly Somony, undersecretary of state in the Ministry of Education, said domestic institutions of higher education were increasingly focused on the quality of graduating students, not the quantity.
"We are developing from quantity to quality improvement," Ly Somony said. "That's why the ministry has decided to close several universities that didn't reach ministry standards."
He urged students to choose courses of study with the future job market in mind. "Look, in the future, there will be many needed in oil and gas engineering. Do many students think about that now? There are many jobs waiting for technicians, but sometimes we don't have the [human] resources where the market really needs them."
Matching recruiters and applicants
Kong Puthikar, recruitment manager of Great Alliances Co Ltd, said his agency helps companies to find potential candidates to fill vacant positions in their companies. Candidates are screened based on experience and field of expertise and then classified into categories before testing and interviewing.
"All people and students can [also] discuss and ask for comment from us about how to write a good CV," said Kong Puthikar.
To find a good job, students should do an internship in the companies of their specialised field to earn experience before walking into the job market, he suggested. However, he noted, some companies hire and train fresh graduates, including British American Tobacco Cambodia, but it was a challenging for applicants to land one of these jobs. Only one or two out of 30 applicants are hired.
"We have been recruiting more than 100 employers for more than 100 companies since January 2007 in the field of human resources, marketing, sales [and] accounting," said Puthikar. Great Alliances charges the employer a commission equal to 15 percent of the employee's salary for a year, but the job seeker pays nothing.