The International Business Chamber in Cambodia (IBC) and several member companies have completed the pilot Pathway to Employment (P2E) program helping local university students to develop crucial workplace skills and contribute to addressing Cambodia’s skills gap.
The chambers Education Committee brought together 17 university students, eight member companies, and six Universities & vocational schools, with each member company expected to provide their students with a monthly allowance.
IBC members involved in the pilot project were LBL Construction, Hongkong Land, Bank of China, Sing-Specialists, CamTech, Ezecom, Pernod Ricard, CB General Insurance Plc, IBC, and Cambodia University of Technology and Science.
Employer responsibilities included providing interns with relevant experiences that reflects the actual work performed as well as providing feedback about the program and complying with all local labor laws.
Universities & vocational schools were the University of Limkokwing, University of Creative Technology, Phnom Penh International University, Mith Samlanh Organization, and the National Technical Training Institute.
Providing ‘a real workplace’ experience
Khuon Rithy a third-year student at NTTI who completed their internship at Camtech University said he gained a lot of experience and knowledge that he had never done before.
“I learned that in fact, an internship is a real job, and a real job is not easy, even if it is your favorite job. The hardest thing for m was performing tasks I had never done before and making sure I could complete them,” Khoun said.e
“Accepting the constructive feedback I received also enables me to strengthen my work to be more effective,” he added.
Throughout the internship, the chamber actively supported the students to see if they were facing challenges or in need of additional assistance. In addition, managers were also provided with training for guidance to support and engage with their interns and apprentices.
Students were required to attend a two-day preparation workshop before starting their internship or apprenticeship as well as participate in follow-up coaching sessions throughout the program.
Sorn Sonak a fourth-year student of the Royal University of Fine Arts in the field of decorative architecture who completed her internship at LBL International said she was able to apply the architecture knowledge she learned at school in the workplace.
According to Sonak, she noticed however that there are still many shortcomings that require her to do more research as well as ask for advice from seniors. This has made her gradually understand the real life working environment that requires a great deal of responsibility.
“I feel this program is very important for students who are looking for new work experience, learning how to work, and learning to build relationships with new people,” she said.
Addressing Cambodia’s skills gap
Development organizations have expressed that Cambodia’s total workforce output level will require quick and significant investment in multiple areas if Cambodia is to achieve its ambitious aim of becoming an upper-middle country by 2030.
Upper middle-income countries are defined as economies with a gross national income per capita between $4,406 and $12,535 currently including regional neighbors Thailand and Malaysia.
Claire Honore Hollweg, Senior Country Economist for World Bank previously spoke to Cambodia Investment Review, after the recent World Bank report that highlighted how both the public and private sectors can increase the overall output of Cambodia’s workforce.
Key reform areas include: investing in human capital, supporting more efficient resource allocation through improved market institutions and public investment management, reducing the cost of operating a business for firms, and improving the performance of key services inputs to strengthen domestic linkages.
“Private sector can also play a role. For example, there is strong evidence that management practices within companies matter a great deal for a firm’s productivity. Technology adoption as well as investing in the labor force through on-the-job training also matter for firm-level productivity,” Claire said.