Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that by the end of this year or early 2024, the government will provide vocational and technical training to about 1.5 million young people from poor and vulnerable households across the country at state institutions, without tuition fee charges, along with a monthly allowance.

At a graduation ceremony for nearly 7,000 students from the Cambodian University of Specialties (CUS) on January 23, he said: “We will do it later this year or next year. From then on, it means we will cover vocational training students from poor families who cannot afford to go to college. We take them to training not only free of charge, but we give them an allowance, in order to train human resources.”

Hun Sen said that if the government could address this for the 1.5 million poor youths and equip them with technical skills, then the informal and formal economies would be integrated. To this end, he said the government will now pay closer attention to developing human resources in the large informal economy.

“So, in providing vocational training to the 1.5 million youths, we aim to give them the skills that will draw more external investment because investors don’t just need strength but also technical skills,” he said.

He noted that Cambodia has potential due to its large number of young people, but their abilities remain limited. Therefore, he referred to the National Economic Policy Committee a proposal to study the possibility of providing vocational training for poor youths not only free of charge but also with allowances.

“Otherwise, they have no money to go to school. We can let them study without tuition charges, but they’ll have nothing to eat. So we have to give them more money. However, because our national budget has already been approved, we do not have funds for immediate implementation, but it will be implemented at the end of the year or early next year,” he said.

The premier added that all this is a reflection of the efforts of the public and private sectors to anticipate the development of Cambodia in the phase of Industrial Revolution 4.0 and the digital economy.

In this regard, Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron previously said that Cambodia in the era of Industry 4.0 needs a lot of experts to work and manage all of the smart systems.

Therefore, he said that in order to improve digital education, the ministry has done a lot of work to mainstream training at all levels to encourage Cambodia to transform itself into a country with a digital economy.

Theng Savoeun, director of the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC), welcomed the announcement of free vocational training for poor youths, saying that vulnerable households have faced a lot of difficulties from the Covid-19 pandemic and inflation.

“In order for this policy to be successful, the government should ensure a conducive environment for stakeholders and organise training courses that are relevant to the situation of young people,” he said.

He said the government should also focus on the general population without regard for political tendencies, especially promoting the training of poor women.

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training recently stated that in order to be well-prepared to make significant contributions to Cambodia’s economic development in the age of digital technology, students should turn their attention to studying more technical, scientific and technological subjects.