The Asian Development Bank has approved a $60 million USD loan to Cambodia’s government to boost labor skills and competitiveness and help the government’s efforts to transit the economy into a skills-driven one. The government’s “Skills for Competitiveness Project” has a goal of producing 18,000 qualified technicians.
According to the 2018 Global Competitiveness Report, Cambodia is ranked 110 out of 140 countries around the world that have reported on the difficulties that both governments and private sector companies find to fill technical roles with highly skilled employees. The Global Competitiveness Report notes that Cambodia’s technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programs are not meeting the needs of the labor market, since the majority of diploma programs focus on jobs in the service sector.
The ADB’s statement on the new loans to Cambodia note that the loans are designed to allow the country to meet three main goals:
• To diversify and modernize the country’s industrial sector by upgrading the facilities and equipment of selected technical training institutes (TTIs) around the country
• To improving the curriculum and skills of TTI teachers and trainers
• To create stronger ties with the government and business community to meet the needs of the labor market
Yumiko Yamakawa, ADB’s education specialist for Southeast Asia said because Cambodia has a fast growing economy, and an expanding workforce, and with many Cambodian companies having a goal to look at regional and international business opportunities that having a highly skilled labor force is essential.
Yamakawa said, “The ADB loan will focus on improving the skills of workers employed in high-growth sectors to fuel the country’s development,” she said. “We are also making sure that all stakeholders, especially the government and the private sector, are working together to boost worker skills.”
According to the ADB, the Skills for Competitiveness Project will help produce 18,000 qualified technicians, 28% of whom are women, who will have higher employability and technical skills in four priority sectors: manufacturing, construction, electricity, and electronics.
A technology class in Cambodia’s capital of Phnom Penh
The ADB said that, “This will be done through efforts in five TTIs around Cambodia, including the upgrading of 16 new training facilities with gender-sensitive, inclusive, and energy-saving design features like separate dormitory floors and toilets for women; the provision of advanced and industry-grade training equipment; capacity development training for trainers; and the provision of merit-based stipends to selected students.”
The five TTIs that the ADB and the Cambodian government have selected for the project are the Battambang Institute of Technology, the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, the National Polytechnic Institute of Angkor, the National Technical Training Institute for TVET Park, and the Regional Polytechnic Institute Techo Sen Svay Rieng.
The ADB noted that the project has a component that includes upskilling and reskilling opportunities for existing workers to address skills gaps and skills shortage in the industrial sector through work-based learning programs.
In addition to the ADB’s loans, the government wants to expand the pilot skills development fund, which it considers an innovative model that will increase and incentivize industry investments in skills development in Cambodia. The project will finance training proposals, to be supported by the fund, which will provide training opportunities for at least 3,500 people, at least 25% of them women; develop the capacity of government agencies to strengthen the management of the fund; and provide support for the establishment of a new permanent agency that will begin operations in 2024.