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Boosting Cambodian workers’ competitive edge with green and safety competencies

Anticipating the skills needed for the transition to greener economies is one of the many actions called for by a recent report of the ILO. Cambodian vocational education schools have started to introduce ‘green’ and occupational safety and health competencies in their course with the support of the ILO.

Feature | 04 June 2018

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (ILO News) – Bun Sok Roeun studied welding in Cambodia’s Industrial Technical Institute (ITI), a vocational education school that joined a pilot green initiative. After interning for a construction material producer, the 18-year-old was given a job offer.

His manager, Lam Chanty, valued his awareness of environmental conservation just as much as his technical welding skills. “After the students completed their study in ITI, they already had enough practice and are competent for the work here,” Lam Chanty said. “They can protect the environment and protect themselves.”

The recent trend in Cambodia is for employers to hire employees with green awareness and knowledge. “If workers have knowledge of green elements, it is easy for them to find a job,” said Bun Heang, Chief of the Skills Development Office in Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.

The opportunity to incorporate green concepts into national policies was made possible under the ILO/Japan Regional Skills Programme and ILO-SIDA Project on Skills for Trade and Economic Diversification (STED). STED supports the Directorate General of Technical Vocational Education and Training in developing competency standards, curriculums and assessment tools for rapidly growing occupations in Cambodia.

These occupations are baking, machining, welding and fruit and vegetable processing. The green competencies include the following:
  • Participate in sustainable development related activity;
  • Use relevant technologies to promote sustainable development;
  • Help preserve the environment by using eco-friendly products; and
  • Monitor and control contamination and spoilage.
The STED pilot training programme, implemented through National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia (NPIC) and ITI, teaches students how to protect themselves from latent accidents, clean the utensils and machines properly, reduce water consumption and energy waste in their work. While these concepts may seem simple and straightforward, these minor adjustments have a long-term impact on the environment.

“The inclusion of the green elements in the competency standards is intended to raise the green awareness of the students themselves, and have them inculcate as part of the work values later on when they join companies,” said Ma. Concepcion E. Sardaña, Chief Technical Advisor of the STED Project.

The Cambodian government realized that it would need to adopt green skills to achieve sustainable social and economic development. In March 2016, Bun Heang, Chief of the Skills Development Office in the Cambodian Department of Skills Standard and Curriculum, attended the Regional Workshop on Skills for Green Jobs. This workshop was funded by the ILO/Japan Regional Skills Programme and aimed to mainstream green elements and environmental concerns into skills policy reform and skills standard development for countries in Asia and the Pacific. After intensive discussions with other participants, Bun Heang developed an action plan to incorporate green elements in national skills standards.

Since then, the newly launched National Technical Vocational Education and Training Policy 2017-25 includes an objective to “ensure that all skilled trainers and trainees receive training on environmental conservation and the impact of a job may have on the environment, including the cultivation of green skills.”

Thorng Samon, Deputy Director of Department of Labour Market Information of the Ministry, who joined ILO’s Regional Workshop on Anticipating Skill Needs in Facilitating the Transition to a Greener Economy, said green skills are new to Cambodia and his country needs them for sustainable economic growth. “Cambodia’s economic target is that Cambodia will become a developed country by 2050, so Cambodia started to act and develop a policy about green skills to sustain the economic growth.”

For more information please contact:

Ms Akiko Sakamoto
ILO Skills and Employability Specialist
Email: sakamoto@ilo.org