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Education on energy is key to Kingdom’s Industry 4.0 future

Jason Boken / Khmer Times Share:
Demand for clean energy is growing and with that demand comes the need for a skilled workforce, say experts. EDC

As Cambodia takes steps towards entering the world of Industry 4.0, experts believe the key is educating future generations on energy and its value while they are in school, at the primary, secondary, college and university level.

They note demand for clean energy is growing and with that demand will come the need for a skilled workforce ready to be part of the fourth industrial revolution. Not only will the Kingdom need more engineers, scientists and technicians, a sound base in industry 4.0 practices will also open the door for careers in sales, marketing, finance, business development, policy and regulation.

The energy industry will be influenced by all Industry 4.0 developments, with Energy 4.0 ultimately influencing Industry 4.0. The energy sector is going through a grand transition requiring the integration of renewable energies into innovative sustainable systems, end-use fuel switches, the coming of electric mobility solutions with their  potential for grid management and individual ownership giving way to shared assets and services.

Because of this, it is detrimental for Cambodia’s youngsters to not be educated on renewable energy, its efficiency and related technologies. This will be important for the country’s economy as well as keeping up with other nations’ industry 4.0 advances and capabilities.

Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme in Cambodia Nick Beresford said: “For many years we have focused on the obvious issues of environment and climate change, but increasingly the story has become more exciting due to new technology, so it’s now about skills and jobs because that is where the future in employment is coming from. If we look at the economy in terms of renewable energy, we must move towards all of the new exciting technology around that sector. That means companies will start to take on apprenticeships and train people up in new technology leading to a workforce that has
a higher set of skills. That’s a self-perpetuating mechanism because once a workforce has those skills, that will attract more companies ready to invest in Cambodia and do more in helping Cambodia’s renewable energy sector.”

Cambodia is, however, somewhat behind when it comes to renewable energy. In comparison with its neighbouring countries, Thailand and Vietnam, the Kingdom has no real roadmap or policy in place. For example, Vietnam has a renewable energy policy that aims to have 21 percent of its energy renewable by 2030 while Thailand is aiming for 30 percent by 2030.

On a wider scale, Asean has set an ambitious target of securing 23 percent of its primary energy from renewable sources by 2025 because energy demand in the region is expected to grow by 50 percent. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), this objective entails a two-and-a-half-fold increase in the modern renewable energy share compared to 2014.

Through education, the Kingdom has the opportunity to transition to a sustainable society powered by renewable energy, but a key factor in achieving this
is adequately and proactively preparing its future generation for their place in a changing workplace full of opportunity. Cambodia must train a new generation of engineers, technicians and scientists to implement renewable technologies on a greater scale and integrate resources into energy systems.

Stephane Munster, Co-founder of Sirea Asia, a leading energy firm, said: “I think universities are doing well, however, I think more integration between the private sector and universities is key. The biggest challenge in doing this is having the resources. The strategy is to have Western experts come and work with the younger generation. We need to continue to invest and also value the teachers in the universities so they are properly incentivised to want to stay and make a difference.”

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