Galeno Chua, founder of IDEA, is also the brainchild behind the PEP Talks program, an initiative by the Stronger with Digital Coalition that is Cambodia’s first holistic workforce forum covering the topics of people, economy, and progress.
Hailing from New Zealand, Chua relocated to Cambodia eight years ago. He came up with the PEP talks program initiative when he found out there is a lack of soft skills in the country. This refers to the ability to learn, critical thinking, and creativity abilities.
“The PEP Talks came after the program that we worked on last year to digitize the thousand that miss going online, and we quickly identified research that digitizing alone is not enough. The research we found was not about the curriculum that we have so much to deliver but the people that benefited that we have to train. And the team members and managers don’t have the soft skills in order to get the advantages that we try to give them,” Chua recalled.
Chua, also goes by nickname G, believes that broadening knowledge and digital skills starts with strengthening people’s soft skills in the workforce.
“Two things came up, one was that we cannot expect people to have downloaded the digital skills like a machine, we are not robots. We have to treat humans like humans, and it requires a bit softer skill. For example, knowing how to learn, knowing how to reflect, having self-empathy, and compassion for customers. Some of those things are not digital skills but they are needed in order to achieve, in this case, an outcome of resilience business during a lockdown,” he mentioned.
Social economics will develop more when workforce training focuses on parenting and self-development skills like communication, solving skills, and creativity, Chua added.
“PEP Talks is about the whole theme of parenting because parents in Cambodia or Asia actually decide where their children are going to work, what they should study, what school they go to, and who they marry. There is so much that happens in the family unit. We want to see meaningful change in the workforce or any other social change that matters. So, there is so much to balance between workforce and workplace development,” Chua said.
PEP Talks aims to bridge workforce gaps across the value chain during a two-day forum and provide the first national internship program to help the new workforce, such as university students and generation Z, start to explore more suitable jobs and cut down the risk of internships by allowing them to see how the interns perform for 30 days for free.
The team spent the first six months of this year researching in order to understand workforce development in Cambodia. They also examined other countries including Singapore and Jamaica and introduced them to PEP Talks Cambodia.
Last year’s event was virtual and organized by The Idea Consultancy with support from Cambodian’s Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, Digital Divide Data, and The Capacity Specialists will host a virtual event covering the insights, gaps, solutions for the preparation of Industry 4.0, and overall improvement of the Cambodian workforce capacity through digital, technical and soft skills such as empathetic practice.
This year’s event was conducted physically at the Factory Phnom Penh on September 15 and 16, focusing on developing the 9.2 million strong Cambodian workforces through empathy, co-creation, data, and design-thinking with experts and stakeholders from across the workforce.
“People need to understand that if we are serious about Cambodia, we have to change what is at home. The most important skills start from home, not even school when they are young. Be a better parent and look after your children. If others are having trouble, help them, too. This is what it means to be a community and Cambodia cannot grow if we are selfish,” he said.
Chua also wants to see other companies help develop their workers' skills by investing in workforce training for sustainable development in the workplace.