Education and employment experts say Cambodian graduates often lack of the skills or experience that employers are seeking.
A lack of knowledge among young people about the courses offered at universities and about the skills required for different careers stems from the public high school system not providing students with sufficient information even to choose what subject to study as their major.
With the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region embarking upon integration at the end of this year—including freer movement of labor—Cambodia’s underprepared labor force is going to be under even more pressure, having to compete with workers from neighboring countries.
So a project funded by the United Nations Development Program and the Embassy of Sweden in Phnom Penh is well timed.
The project Klahan9—from the Khmer word Klahan, meaning “brave”—is a multimedia initiative that aims to help youths make better decisions about their careers. Implemented by BBC Media Action, it so-far centers on a radio show that broadcasts interviews with employment experts, call-in advice programs and educational dramas to try to spread information about employment.
“Most of the youths in high school have no idea about which major fits their talents, and we hope to provide them with information to let them choose the right path to walk in their career,” said Sok Somphoas Phalyka, radio manager at Klahan9.
“We cover a range of topics—from how to search for employment opportunities more effectively, negotiating with parents and employers, CV writing and interviewing skills, workplace safety, employee rights and responsibilities—to make the youth learn and know how to adjust themselves for their career.”
The show is broadcast live on Sundays between 1pm and 2pm on FM103. The content is also be available online through a website, and through SoundCloud and Facebook. A television show in the same vein, Klahan9 TV, will begin in December.
One fan of the radio show, Phat Pichny, who is a junior student at National University of Management majoring in marketing, told VOA Khmer that she benefits from listening to the program. Klahan9 builds on the popularity and momentum of Love9, a sexual and reproductive health initiative, and Loy9, a program encouraging civic engagement among youth.
“The program provides me and the audience with the good knowledge that will allow us to make better decisions in choosing a major or a path to walk in our academic life and career,” she said. “It is not a good idea for many Cambodia youths to choose a major based on the influence given by peers and family.”
Another listener told VOA Khmer that the program provides the audience with some good tips shared by the experts they invited to be the guest speaker.
“For youths, it benefits us a lot because the contents of the program mostly focus on youths,” said Seng Kimleang, a 26-year-old office worker. “I also receive a lot of guidance from the experts from many different fields.”