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Ministry to spend $500M on 5-year vocational master plan

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Workers work at the construction site in Phnom Penh's Chamkarmon district. Hong Menea

Ministry to spend $500M on 5-year vocational master plan

Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training will spend nearly $500 million to accomplish a five-year master plan in improving Technical and Vocational Education and Training (2021-2025) by focusing on four strategies.

Labour minister Ith Sam Heng revealed the plan in his Facebook post on December 30.

He said the four strategies are developing and improving educational infrastructure, equipping tools and materials necessary for training, strengthening capacity of management and relevant civil officials, hiring technical trainers, as well as increasing the quantity and quality of skills and vocations.

The five-year master plan will see total spending of $493.1 million, with more than $102 million to be spent on constructing 26 educational facilities with 1,116 classrooms and $54.6 million on 28 trainee dormitories.

Another $49.6 million will be spent on building 248 workshops, $186 million for equipping them with training tools and materials, $2.25 million for building the capacity of management and technical trainers, and $93.1 million for training more than 392,000 trainees.

Sam Heng said in the preface of the document that in the preparation of this master plan, they had thoroughly considered the current skilled labour shortfall Cambodia is facing.

“This master plan will change the face of vocational education and training institutions under the ministry’s jurisdiction to be more attractive among youth and the public, enabling them to learn a skill to get decent jobs with high productivity, in line with the government’s vision,” he said.

Currently, there are 108 technical and vocational education and training institutions. Among them, 38 are state-owned, 45 private-owned, and 25 run by non-governmental organisations. From 2015 to 2019, all these institutions had trained 238,309 trainees, according to the master plan.

It said that every year, Cambodia needs a labour force of around 310,000 people – 80,000 for the construction industry, 60,000 for the garment industry, 60,000 for the manufacturing sector, 40,000 in the hotel and hospitality sector, 40,000 for the trade industry, and 30,000 in the transportation and communication sector.

Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said on December 30 that the $493.1 million five-year master plan will be funded by the state and its development partners.

Cambodian Labour Confederation president Ath Thorn said the master plan sounds good, particularly on skill development, as the Cambodian workforce has been viewed by other countries as low-skilled. He said Cambodia lacks of skilful experts in almost all sectors.

“Cambodia has a workforce of up to 600,000 in the tourism sector. This sector does not have many experts and if we compare it to other sectors, this should be one of the priorities. Agriculture also needs to have many more experts. Most of the people in this sector face the work challenges of producing raw materials and food processing.

“All sectors should be improved. Even the garment sector lacks highly skilled experts. In the construction sector, we still need many Vietnamese and Chinese to join the workforce,” Thorn said.

He suggested that the ministry encourage business owners to train their own staff as required by the labour law. He said the ministry seemed to have overlooked this.

If companies fill this gap, there will be enough skilled labourers in the workforce. If they companies don’t and let the ministry put in the effort alone, then the training planned by the ministry will not meet the market demand and the lack of skilled workers will continue, Thorn said.

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