Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday compared the path of university graduates entering the job market to that of contestants on the television song contest “The Voice.”
Speaking to more than 4,000 graduates of Build Bright University on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich, Mr. Hun Sen began by giving a basic explanation of “The Voice”—a global franchise currently broadcasting its first season in Cambodia—before warning that graduates who struggle academically would face a similar uphill battle as the show’s less accomplished singers.
“At the first stage, the candidates sing songs and the referees push the buttons to select,” the prime minister explained, saying that he had watched the show closely to compare the Cambodian singers to the talent pools in other fields such as law, economics and health sciences.
“Now, it’s another stage where the selected candidates are brought to be trained and sent back to compete again,” he continued.
In “The Voice,” aspiring vocal stars perform a tune of their choice before a panel of judges who listen with their backs turned to the stage.
The judges—four established celebrities who ostensibly have no prior knowledge of the contestants—then push an oversized red button if at any time during the performance they decide they want to coach that performer through the next stage of the competition.
Upon pressing the button, a judge’s chair spins around so they can see their new apprentice for the first time.
Naturally, the best performers are scooped up quickly, while the rest are left to linger.
“So, it is the same for our students,” Mr. Hun Sen told the graduates, warning them that, just as in “The Voice,” the least skilled people would be fighting to fill few positions.
“Sometimes only two people compete with each other and sometimes three people compete with each other, but only one candidate is selected,” Mr. Hun Sen said. “[‘The Voice’] can’t be cheated.”
“If you want to perform at the local stages, it’s fine,” he said. “But it’s not easy at the national level.”