Improved ICT Training Key to Prep Cambodia for the Digital Revolution

Digital Transformation Cambodia 2022 summit highlights the need for improved ICT education in schools and the workplace to prepare Cambodia’s workforce for Industry 4.0.
Employees work in a company office in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa
Employees work in a company office in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa

The Digital Transformation Cambodia 2022 summit's overarching theme of 'Accelerating Digital Readiness' aimed to bridge the digital divide by sparking discussions on how the government, education providers, and private sectors can collaborate to boost digital skills and combat isolation in today's digital society.

At Friday’s summit, Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS) highlighted in a pre-recorded keynote speech that the event is a part of the regional Digital Skills Bridging for Inclusive Digital Transformation Program to support ASEAN’s digital transformation plans and increase the region’s digital readiness and competitiveness.

Digital Transformation Cambodia 2022

“We are aware that technology and advanced technology have been incorporated into various sectors, such as education, which play an important role in supporting national sustainable growth. Cambodia's rapid growth in mobile and internet users, and new innovations are being created,” Chuon Naron said.

With the country's rapid growth of mobile and internet users, new innovations and applications are being developed and implemented. The digital start-up sector is budding and new sectors with new job opportunities based on digital technology are emerging.

Cambodia's MoYES hosted the summit, which was supported by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC). It aims to establish cooperation and coordination for human resource development among relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies, ministries, TVET and higher education institutions (academia), international employers, industry players, and philanthropic organizations to collectively recontextualize education as a global common good.

Innovations and applications are being developed and implemented. The digital start-up sector is creating a new industry with new job opportunities based on digital energy or emerging substantial digital developments that are helping the Cambodian economy and society to advance digital transformation.

There are several challenges to maximize the benefits of digital transformation in Cambodia, including the need to put in place the necessary ecosystems for the digital economy to thrive, increase connectivity efficiency and effectiveness, implement policies and regulations, and increase the community's digital skill set to encourage digital technology adoption.

It is expected that more occupations will require ICT, and technology will continue to be a source of entrepreneurship and better jobs, he added.

Chuon Naron told the audience it is necessary to have smart technology, however, it is even more important to produce skilled human resources to apply and make the greatest use of technology. Investors want both hard and soft skills, particularly 21st-century skills like the use of digital technologies.

The development must be inclusive to increase the economy’s scale and manage the short impact of digital transformation as theoretically transformed innovation of economic activities, it is vital to promote development skills to support technology adoption.

Kim Sethany, Secretary of State of MoEYS, said that as digitization and the industrial revolution continue to transform the global economy and workforce, the need for new skills increases. New technologies are changing the way people work, increasing the requirement for ICT-complementary skills.

“One of the primary challenges for us Cambodians is that we are at the crossroads of how to prepare our youth for a new future of work and the country's readiness for adaptation and adoption of Industry 4.0,” Sethany said.

Current workforce in Cambodia

According to the Global Digital Readiness Index, Cambodia scored 8.60 over 25, compared to the global average of 11.93. Close to 85 percent of the Kingdom’s current workforce did not complete their secondary education. In addition, there are only two grades in the current high school curriculum where ICT is offered.

“In order for us to remain competitive in the regional and global workforce market, the need and demand for reskilling and upskilling of our workforce is substantial. The increasing demand for technology and automation requires us to reskill our workforce for the new future of work, with not only digital skills but human skills, such as social and emotional intelligence, and higher cognitive skills,” she said at the Digital Transformation Cambodia 2022.

This formed part of the Digital Skills Bridging for Inclusive Digital Transformation Program, EduCLaaS Global and Confexhub Group co-hosted the inaugural Digital Transformation Cambodia 2022 conference in Phnom Penh last week at Oakwood Premier in Phnom Penh.

Datuk Abdul Aziz S.A Kadir, Chairman of confexhub, said at the Digital Transformation Cambodia Summit 2022 that ASEAN member states are actively taking concrete steps to progress in their digital transformation efforts, in alignment with the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025 and the Roadmap of the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work.

“All ASEAN citizens are able to access public services digitally, transforming the way to interact with the government. Most of them will be digitally empowered and using high-tech tools to enhance their personal and professional lives,” Datuk Abdul said.

The situation has led to an unprecedented increase in demand for digital skills while emphasizing the importance of having a favorable learning ecosystem in the region that is capable of cultivating more digital talents, he added.

Chea Vandeth, MPTC minister, said the summit's theme is improved inclusiveness in education and employment for everyone to guarantee youth are better equipped for the digital economy by investing in 21st century skills and education.

Critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, digital literacy, and more holistic social and emotional skills will be required for today's youth to cope with new technologies and rapidly changing industries, the minister explained.

The Phnom Penh summit was aimed at bridging the missing connection between education and the workplace by fostering tripartite partnerships across public, private, and non-profit sectors, for pre-and post-secondary education, and lifelong applied learning.

The event also offered transnational digital workforce incubation, as well as assistance with inclusive digital transformation to achieve income and gender equality. It will reduce the digital skills gap by aiding youngsters in joining in-demand digital opportunities, transitioning underemployed people into high-growth digital careers, and preparing the SME workforce for digital transformation.

This year’s Digital Transformation Cambodia also explored the transformation of education and training to produce digitally future-ready workforces, as well as provide a review and recommendations of policies, strategies, initiatives, and innovative financing models to cultivate a culture of lifelong learning in support of the national digital transformation.