What ELSE? — Connecting to the Job Market
This is the seventh and final post in a series about what ELSE PEPY does. Click here for the first post.
We recognize that schools are only as valuable as the teaching going on within them. But we also recognize that formal education is only as valuable as the opportunities it presents compared with the opportunity costs of lost labor or other school alternatives.
Hence, if there are kids graduating from grade 12 in Chanleas Dai who DON’T get a job when they are done and the local community sees them just heading back into farming yet with the large burden of sending the child to school for so long still weighing on the family, no one will be encouraged to keep their kids in school.
If, on the other hand, parents see that other families who have had a child finish grade 12 are now benefiting from the financial support their children are able to provide from their higher skilled and higher paid jobs, they might be more encouraged to believe that the future benefits of education will outweigh the immediate costs.
PEPY has a lot more work to do in this area, as connecting Chanleas Dai to job markets, skills training, and increased exposure for the current markets they are working in are all areas we believe will support one of the keys to increasing education: economic improvements. Currently, PEPY has partnered with these organizations to help graduating 12th grade students access new opportunities, but is looking to expand this in the coming year. Perhaps a more complete “job and higher education fair” could be put together so that all of these groups could do their presentations and access interested students at the same time. Here are some of our current projects and thoughts:
CIST offers two-year courses in IT and systems management for disadvantaged youth in Cambodia. “Disadvantaged Youth” is hard to define, but CIST does a fabulous and thorough job of recruiting. Their process takes nearly half of the year from presentations about the realities of the course and living in Phnom Penh, tests to find the top students, interviews to find the students who are the most eager to bring information and knowledge back to their communities, and “poverty assessments” including home visits and community interviews for each student who gets to the final round. PEPY funded the recruiting costs for CIST to do their process in Kralanh (the town which has the only high school in the area where Chanleas Dai students would end up) and Pouk, a town halfway between Kralanh and Siem Reap. Our hope is that some day a student from Chanleas Dai will graduate from the CIST program and then we can hire them to move back and manage our IT programs! In the meantime, we have hired two of CISTs graduates to teach in Chanleas Dai and have been extremely impressed with their training and dedication to our programs.
DDD is one of the reasons were are in Cambodia in the first place. In 2002, I came to Cambodia to visit my friend university classmate Tim Keller (now state senator of New Mexico!) as he was DDD’s first president. Since then, I have been impressed with DDD’s example as a successful social venture, even listed in Freidman’s “The World is Flat” as such. Digital Divide Data is a data entry and digitization company which employs and trains underprivileged Cambodians. As DDD recognized the successful process CIST is using for recruiting, DDD now outsources their recruitment and training to CIST. If you have any data entry needs PLEASE consider using DDD! They are price competitive, the highest quality, and your money will be going to support individuals who can improve their family’s economic and educational status through your support. DDD uses a “Follow Your Dream” model — employing people for only 1/2 day shift and requiring that they be in school the other half of the day. It can be a BA in accounting or a course in car mechanics, anything is ok! The idea is that the employee is gaining IT skills and is gainfully employed but is given access to study that which they are passionate about learning so that they can go on to follow their dream careers in the future. AMAZING organization. We are proud that one of our PEPY interns is a finalist in their current recruitment round.
Recruiting for Sala Bai is less academically rigorous that the DDD and CIST programs, but provides opportunities for gainful employment. Sala Bai’s year-long courses in hotel and restaurant skills such as cooking, table service, and front desk training are also balanced out by courses in English, life-skills, and connections to employment opportunities upon completion.
PEPY is always looking for new partners and welcomes any ideas you may have. In addition, stay tuned as we try to work with DDD to bring their entire model to Kralanh. Why bring the “disadvantaged people of Cambodia” to the cities to find new jobs, and in the meantime become more disadvantaged, when we could bring the jobs to them. We’d love help with this and the key factor to success would be securing enough data entry and digitization work to make the additional office profitable and successful. Want to be involved, let us know!