Plan International Cambodia and the local NGO Krousar Yoeung are providing vocational training and short skills courses for Cambodian youth whose families cannot afford higher education.
Yi Kimthan, national program manager, said the courses focused on 12 skill areas and were tailored for young people.
The program has been in existence for five years. So far, some 2,200 youths have been given the chance to pick one of 12 fields in which to receive training.
“The program targets Cambodian youth from low-income families who were not able to continue their studies, especially in remote areas. The idea is to ensure that young people are taught needed skills and are given a chance to find work. In some cases they have been able to start their own business and earn a decent income,” Mr Kimthan said.
Mr Kimthan went on to say that different skills were popular in different areas: hospitality and cooking was popular in Siem Reap province; vehicle and tractor repair in Ratanakkiri; beauty salon training in Kampong Cham, etc.
Speaking at the seminar of ending program in Siem Reap, deputy provincial governor Kim Chhaihieng said that the training allowed students to develop both hard and soft skills that can benefit the development of society.
“Students receive training in areas where it is needed, and get work experience from professionals from government and other national institutes. With the right skills, they can support themselves, their families, and society as a whole,” Mr Chhaihieng said.
Plan International Cambodia and the NGO Krousar Yoeung worked together on the program, visiting communes and explaining its goals to villagers. They encouraged youth to sign up, in particular targeting young people who had left school.
All of the vocational training students study for four months, and then spend an additional two months at an institute in Siem Reap City.
Khun Ratha, 18, studied to be an electrician for four months. She recently found a job at a company, and because she was the only woman to apply, the firm agreed to take her on without the additional two months of training.
“My teacher encouraged me to apply to a company after finishing the initial course. When I applied, the company said that because I was the only woman to apply for this job, they wanted to give me a chance,” Ms Ratha said.
After finishing her high school Grade 12 exam, Ms Ratha had to stop studying and go back to working as a farm laborer because her family didn’t have the money to fund continued schooling for her.
“I really wanted to keep studying but I didn’t get the chance. One day some NGO workers came, so I asked my mother if I could start training,” she said.
The study, training and accommodation during the week were provided at the institute in the city, but on weekends Ms Ratha would bicycle home.
It was a bit hard for her at first, because she knew nothing about electrical equipment or systems, but she soon caught on. Now, she hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree some day, and her family supports her ambitions.
Lorm Prey, 24, from Traom Sorsor commune, Siem Reap province, is one of six children of a farmer. He stopped studying at Grade 12 because he comes from a low-income family.
“After Plan Cambodia and Krousar Thmey workers spoke about vocational training, I was immediately interested in learning how to fix a tractor. So I started studying,” he said.
Mr Prey comes from a remote area with many tractors, so it was a good fit for him. He said many people in his village had gone to other countries to find work, but that held no interest for him. Now, with the training, Mr Prey hopes one day to own a tractor-repair business.