Learning Center

learning_center

Graduation from tertiary education does not necessarily lead to securing a job. In 2012, the National Employment Agency in Cambodia conducted a survey with businesses in Siem Reap to identify issues within the labor market. They found that there was a chronic skills shortage in high school and university graduates. Employers were struggling to fill positions as graduates were leaving education without appropriate skills for securing employment.

Key skills found to be lacking included soft skills such as leadership, interpersonal communication, critical and analytical thinking skills, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. Also lacking were hard skills such as proficiency in English language and Information & Communication Technology.

Our goal is to support Kralanh students in gaining further education and skilled employment. To do this, we’re providing learning that goes beyond just a university degree or vocational training.

The PEPY Empowering Youth Learning Center provides scholarship students with three classes to enhance their employability. These include:

  • English: We provide both internal and external English classes. The English classes within the center supplement the English Classes that the students attend at external language schools. In addition, we go beyond the textbook curriculum to provide practical skills through the English language, such as critical thinking.
  • ICT: Communication through technology is really important in securing jobs. Students learn industry-standard software applications including Microsoft Office in preparation for future employment.
  • Youth Empowerment: For first year students, these classes aim to build confidence and skills in interpersonal communication, leadership, problem-solving, and critical thinking. Second year students’ utilize these skills by discussions about world issues and the international community.

Through the above classes, we provide CV and cover letter writing, and interview technique workshops to help prepare students for their own career path.

In addition, our Center hosts speakers several times a year, showcasing Cambodian role models who have achieved success in their professional lives. We also facilitate forums between potential employers and students, so they can learn more about the job market. To help students enhance their work experience and build their confidence, we help connect students with temporary opportunities such as internships and volunteering.

In addition, each year teachers from Educate Together in Ireland spend time in Siem Reap collaborating, learning, and teaching with the scholarship students.

 


Impact

2014

English: Classes this year focused on making presentations, mock interviews, letter writing, creative writing, and workshops on fostering positive mental health.

ICT: Students received training in software including Microsoft Office, Google Drive, Dropbox, Photoshop, graphic design software, and blog software. In addition, the students learned how to format CV’s, cover letters, and reports.

Youth Empowerment: The students prepared for and facilitated community development workshops in two communes in the Kralanh district. They worked together to assess the needs of the community and how these needs could be met through knowledge transfer. These sessions provided an effective mechanism to empower the students to be leaders and role models for children and young people in their communities. This empowerment benefited not only the students themselves but the wider communities at large.

An introduction to the hospitality and tourism industry was provided by an Employee Forum, a visit to the Soria Moria Hotel and vocational school Ecole Paul Dubrule. The students also expanded their knowledge through the Skills Fair in Kralanh and a Khmer Talks event.

 

2013

English: When the Learning Center commenced at the end of 2013, students’ levels and confidence in English was low. Within only several months, students became more confident, and were able to converse in English in the classroom.

ICT: Prior to these classes, some students had never connected to the internet. They learned how to access information online, and established personal email accounts for communicating with friends, school, and, in the future, places of work.

Youth Empowerment: With many students dreaming of a job in tourism, the Employee Forum on Hotels, which we coordinated, was a popular and practical event. We invited two speakers from hotels in the area, who spoke about the different positions available in the industry and how to best pursue a job.

 


Challenges / Lessons learned

  • Students enter English class at various abilities, which proves challenging to both nurture advanced students and support beginners. However, our classes are supplementary to the English classes students receive at an external facility. This facility is able to successfully cater to the different needs of the students.
  • When the Learning Center was established, it quickly became apparent that students needed extended access to our computer facilities as they do not have their own computers at home. In 2014, we extended our opening hours to allow students to use the ICT classroom in the early evenings. We found this ineffective however, as many students have commitments in the evenings and could not take advantage of the extended hours. Now there are communal computers at the first year students’ houses, and we also have several laptops available for borrowing.
  • As part of Youth Empowerment class, it has been challenging to identify suitable student mentors due to time constraints of both the students and the potential mentors. So far, we have been lucky enough to secure several excellent mentors, and continue working towards finding more.
  • As students attend university and vocational school in the mornings, our classes are constrained in that we are only able to offer Learning Center classes in the afternoon. Unfortunately, some students also have studies in the afternoon and cannot attend the Learning Center to benefit from the additional training.
  • Initially in Youth Empowerment classes, we focused only on soft skills. We soon realized that in order for students to practice and utilize these skills, they needed context provided by knowledge about world issues and the international community, therefore we have since incorporated this into the curriculum.

 

  

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