The Ministry of Public Works and Transport, in cooperation with the Cambodia Institute of Technology (ITC), is organizing an undergraduate training program to teach skills related to road and bridge construction to increase capacity technique of Cambodia in this area.

This initiative was created in order to address a dire shortage of Cambodian engineers and other skilled construction specialists in relation to the booming construction sector and the rapid pace of development of the country, which has led to a strong reliance on foreign-born workers in this sector in order to keep up with the breakneck pace of construction in cities like Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh.

Ministry spokesman Vasim Sorya told The Post that the training program was initiated by Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol, who asked a task force to work with ITC to design a curriculum for teaching the skills needed to build roads and bridges.

In the past, these two institutions had signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at solving this problem, but the memorandum of understanding was never fully implemented.

“We are planning to do this in cooperation with ITC, and now we have started the planning process for it. We have already signed the MoU with ITC, but we still need to review it. We have worked with ITC in the past and sent some of our teachers there to provide professional training, but it will be a bigger effort than that as there is a huge need right now, today, to more skilled workers, ”he said.

Sorya added that Cambodia did not yet have the technical expertise to build something more ambitious than simple roads or bridges.

Chanthol said this is an issue that can no longer be pushed back or ignored and he hopes the skills training program ITC is putting in place will begin to tackle this issue.

“For a typical high-rise building, Cambodian engineers have the ability to design these plans and build them. But they don’t have the capacity to study and build large bridges spanning rivers or highways.

“We have always asked for help from [foreign experts] and we hired [foreign engineers] for the construction of these bridges and highways. Once we have Cambodians with these skills, we will reduce the recruitment of foreigners from overseas, as Cambodia should be built by Cambodians wherever possible, ”he said.

Chanthol further noted that another benefit of training Cambodian youth in engineering skills was to promote the development of Cambodian technical capacities in the international arena, a goal that was in line with government policy to prioritize development of human resources as well as the construction of basic infrastructure.

He also urged the ministry’s working group to consider the possibility of cooperating with ITC to speed up the implementation schedule of the training program and launch the program in January next year.

The President of the Federation of Cambodia Construction and Timber Workers Unions, Sok Kin, praised the training, saying: “When young Cambodians have these skills, they will not need to leave their home country for look for work abroad. Even when our construction workers have the necessary skills, they still do not have the proper certifications recognizing that they are at that level or level. A formal training program for professional certifications is what we have wanted for a long time, ”he said.

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