Down with diplomas, long live technicians with advanced certificates

This photo taken on June 26, 2018 shows Cambodian students and a teacher using a computer in a modern classroom (AFP)

Over the last 10 years, Cambodia has benefitted from steady economic growth, putting the country’s economy among the most dynamic in the world.


However, this will not last, as numerous international institutions have stressed, without a sizeable investment in professional training mainly to prepare specialized technicians for the industrial sectors.  


As Cambodia comes out of the growth “red zone,” a great many benefits that had been granted to help its economic recovery will be removed, and the country will have to face head on, without any safeguard, competition from countries that were never affected by delays in training managers and technicians. 


In the manufacturing sector, one must think beyond garment manufacturing that mainly employs manpower with little or no training.


Tourism, which is one of the economy’s driving forces, must offer a quality of service at the level of its international claims with each new project comparing to what is being offered in Hong Kong, Singapore and other major urban centers with world ranking.


Going from an economy based on low-wage manpower to a highly-competitive one is not an option but a necessity for the country. Without that mutation, economic growth would inevitably wear away. 


Professional training for specialized technicians for the manufacturing as well as the service sectors is therefore a priority that the Cambodian authorities keep in mind. 


This involves offering specialized training with high-level diplomas on par with those offered in the region’s most developed countries. Institutions such as the Technological Institute of Cambodia already are rising to the challenge, but more is needed to offer specializations in other fields.      


In order to persuade young people to opt for technical training—as long as those high-level programs are able to train them—one can guarantee them well-paid positions, given the economy’s future needs.


But will this be enough to attract them? 


Will they find the social recognition that one can rightly expect after long technical training? 


This remains a challenge in this country where setting up a business in the hope of quickly making a fortune and obtaining a PhD with the goal of becoming part of the privileged public and private circles are considered paths for social mobility. 


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