Pilot Plan Hopes to Boost Skilled Labor in Tourism Sector

In a bid to plug a gap in an expanding tourism market, vocational training for high school-aged students interested in a career in the industry will be offered in Cambodia for the first time.

The pilot program, a joint venture between the ministries of tourism and education will be rolled out later this year to train a new generation of skilled workers, a Tourism Ministry official said on Monday.

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Tourists pose for a photograph at the Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap province last year. (Reuters)

The three-year pilot program, which will be equivalent to a high-school degree, will equip students with skills for the hospitality industry and other tourism-related fields at three educational institutions beginning in September or October, said Try Chhiv, deputy director-general at the ministry.

“Students will have the option to choose between a general or technical education program. They can choose tourism as a speciality after they finish secondary school,” Mr. Chhiv said, adding that the program would follow Asean tourism standards.

Three institutions—Saint Francois General Knowledge and Private Technical High School in Takeo province, Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center (CJCC) in Siem Reap and Kompong Chheu Teal High School in Kompong Thom province—have been identified as having the facilities required to offer the vocational training programs.

The program’s curriculum and classroom hours were still being discussed, Mr. Chhiv said.

“Our focus is to build skills,” Mr. Chhiv said. “We do not want our youth with intelligence and energy to all go to work in other countries. We want them to work and contribute to this country.”

“After they learn skills and work, we also hope they will build up their capacity to create SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] in the future,” he added.

Cambodia was recently named one of the 10 worst countries in the world in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index—an annual report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent—released by international business school INSEAD earlier this month.

This makes the new tourism program even more crucial to help Cambodian youth develop their skills, said Ho Vandy, secretary-general of Cambodia National Tourism Alliance.

“Some youth can learn these skills at the workplace, but with this program they can learn these skills while studying in high school, which saves them time,” Mr. Vandy said.

Sreng Theavika, an eighth grade student at Preah Sisowath High School in Phnom Penh, said she was intrigued.

“I would like to enroll in the program when it is offered because I want to be a tour guide and be able to to travel to different places,” she said.

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