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Expert: Cambodian youth to improve on three flaws to face the future

Va Sonyka / Khmer Times Share:
Nick Beresford, UNDP Resident Representative. YT/Mai Vireak

The working world will look a lot different for tech-savvy generations. There is no way of telling exactly how things would change but it is best to arm ourselves for what is to come. In order to build up human resource capacity for the incoming Industrial Revolution 4.0, Youth Today speaks to UNDP Resident Representative Nick Beresford who revealed three weak spots that he noticed among Cambodian youths. Read on to find out what they are and how to tackle them ahead of 2020.


1). Education: Cambodia’s young workforce holds a relatively low level of education and more than half of the population in the labour force had left school before they even completed upper secondary education. This low level of education in the workforce will lead to a loss in productivity. For example, fewer years of schooling might lead to poor discipline and lack of professionalism at work, resulting in low productivity. The condition also hinders young people’s capacity to acquire new skills in the long term, especially job skills related to digital technologies.

2). Digital literacy: Although the rate of internet penetration and mobile phones in Cambodia in the last decade is among the highest in the region, many internet users navigate exclusively through social media platforms (Facebook) and are unlikely to fully benefit from the existing internet connectivity and technologies available for employment opportunities and business purposes. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that there is also a disparity in internet access and digital literacy skills between urban youth and their rural counterparts.

Mr Beresford, however, acknowledged that the government is well aware of the issues and is doing a lot to try and improve the quality of education and training. Yet, he said, more action has to be taken urgently.

These include a better understanding of threats and opportunities driven by technologies on young people including the level of current skills of young Cambodians, emerging ICT skills needed by employers, and training capacity available in the country.

“Government policies must be designed and implemented in such a way as to not only open opportunities for workers to continue learning and acquiring new skills, but also address the foundations for future labour productivity by improving education and health care and nutrition for young people,” said Mr Beresford.

In addition, he said it is critical to forge and expand partnerships between government, private sectors, startups and development partners to training and linking workforce with employment opportunities.

He said a few examples of the priorities should include improving the quality of TVET classrooms, workshops, teaching staff and links to the labour market, while promoting digital inclusiveness by increasing young people’s accessibility to ICT skill training at all levels.

3). Entrepreneurship culture: Entrepreneurship culture is yet to be instilled in the Cambodian youth’s mindset. In the context of economy driven by advanced technologies, more Cambodian entrepreneurs are needed to create more growth-based startup or small and medium enterprises (SMEs) using available techs and high-value jobs.

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