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ADB: Graduates not ready to work

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Garment workers at Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone in the past. Hong Menea

ADB: Graduates not ready to work

A survey conducted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) found a discrepancy between the perception of employers in tourism and garment sectors and institutions which provide training to would-be workers in these sectors, with a majority of employers saying graduates were not prepared for entry-level positions.

The report analysed how the Kingdom’s two largest employment sectors were adapting to the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, also known as ‘4IR’. It concluded that education and training institutions needed to better prepare students for entering the workforce.

“Employers surveyed in garment manufacturing, 90 per cent, and tourism, 79 per cent, reported that graduates hired in the past year had not been adequately prepared by their pre-employment education or training,” the report said.

Training institutes and employers had existing channels for engagement, but there seemed to be inadequate communication of what was needed by the industries.

“Notably, employers across both industries appear to be willing to provide input on curricula despite training institutions reportedly engaging employers not as frequently. There appears to be a missed opportunity to improve coordination between the training sector and industry,” it found.

“There seems to be a severe misalignment between training institutions and employers in their perception of graduates’ preparedness for work, including skills required for entry-level roles as well as general and job-specific skills,” said the report, adding that nearly 60 per cent of training institutions surveyed believed graduates were well prepared.

The report found that training institutions had a strong focus on instructor assessments, but instructors had limited exposure to real workplace environments. Only 41 per cent provided teachers with time devoted to gaining practical knowledge and new techniques while on the job.

It projected that by 2030, up-skilling in the garment manufacturing sector could require up to 13.5 million additional “person trainings”, where each instance “refers to training one worker in one skill from the average level required by corresponding occupation and industry in 2018 to the required level in 2030”. The tourism sector could need 10.2 million such trainings.

Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport spokesman Ros Soveacha described ADB’s findings as personal opinions. Spokespersons from the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training declined to comment.

Andrew Tey, director of the Cambodian Garment Training Institute (CGTI), said: “We agree with the findings, as most graduates are not equipped with the skills that the sectors need.

“These two sectors require additional technical and on-job training.”

To fill this gap, the CGTI provides training to students on technical and soft skills, along with 12 months on-job training after four months of classroom study. During the on-job training, all students must return to the CGTI for mentorship to ensure the smoothness of their transition.

“If any issues arise during the on-job training, we will further provide additional guidance. Before students begin the on-job training, we ensure that they all understand the work requirements of our sector,” Tey said.

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