Vocational education

By definition, Vocational education refers to the program that enables people to acquire highly transferable and development skills. It also grants people the necessary technical skill for their desired career.1 Cambodia’s vocational education plays an important role during the country’s economic structural transition and the ASEAN regional integration.2 Moving toward the Industrial and Service economy, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) will contribute to the improvement in economic competitiveness, diversify and upskill the existing labor force.3

A student is repairing a machine. Photo by NPIC – National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia. Taken on December 24, 2021. Licensed not specified.

Since the early 1990s, Vocational education in Cambodia has been prioritized within the higher education system.4 To ensure improvement in this sector, a new National Training Board was formed under the authority of the Ministry of Education in 1996.5 The board consists of government officials, technical trainers and employers.6 The main functions of the board are to develop strategies and curricula to improve TVET and oversee their developments.7 As of the 2018-2019 school year, there are 38 public and 44 private TVET institutions operating across the country.8 Some prominent public TVET schools are the National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia (NPIC), National Institute of Bussiness (NIB), National Technical Training Institute (NTII), Preah Kosamak Polytechnic Institute (PPI), and Polytechnic Institute of Battambang Province (PIB). Around 43,171 students enrolled at the public TVET school and 6,141 at the private ones in the 2017-2018 school year.9


Formal and Non-formal TVET

Cambodia’s vocational education offers formal and non-formal education. Formal TVET is under the direct management of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training.10 There are three programs offered in formal TVET education such as TVET program, the Vocational diploma, and the TVET program at tertiary level.11 They are long-term courses (2-4 years) that required different qualifications. For TVET program, students need at least the completion of lower secondary school. Numerous areas and subjects that are available to study are general mechanism, agricultural mechanism, computer technology, electricity, electronic, and civil engineering.12

While qualification for Vocational diploma requires completion of general upper secondary school or vocational upper secondary13, the diploma offers the same area of study as TVET program plus subjects in the business area such as sales and accounting. After finishing this program, students can go for vocational bachelor program to qualify for technology-focused undergraduate programs. Lastly, TVET program at tertiary level requires the completion of vocational diploma and general upper secondary.14 Industry-relevant skills will be the main focus at this education level. Engineering, applied science, health science and ICT are the skill that prepares students for their future career path in the labor market.

Non-formal TVET is mainly provided by Provincial Training Centers (PTCs) and Vocational Training Centers (VTCs).15 Other institutions that offer non-formal TVET are Nongovernmental Organizations and Community Learning Centers (CLCs). The course is short-term and often lasts around 1-4 months. Mostly, the course offers training in agriculture, construction, motor repairs, agriculture, basic vocational skill and basic food processing. Non-formal TVET does not have a proper guideline or structure. The program, length of training and enrolment varies differently across the training centers. As of 2020, there are 157 CLCs working to help produce human resources through non-formal TVET program.16 There are four non-formal TVET programs that operate under the training funds (2009-2019). They are the National Training Fund, Voucher Skills Training Program (VSTP), Prime Minister’s Special Fund: Special Fund of Samdech Techo Prime Minister and Post-harvest Technology and TVET Skills Bridging Program.17

Enrollment by course name for Bachelor program

Source: Technical and Vocational Education and Training Statistic 2017-2018, revived from
TVET statistic 2017-2018.
Subject NameNumber of Course Enrollment (Total)Enrollment (Female)
Civil Engineering301,696154
Accounting and Finance271,1071,006
Business Administration19579296
Banking and Finance17547347
Information Technology23511120
English Language12166105
Tourism and Hospitality910167
Business Information Technology49219
Air Conditioning1201

TVET policy and regulations 

The Royal Government of Cambodia has established various policies and regulations to address the market labor issue that Cambodia is currently facing including skill gap and skill mismatch. Cambodia’s vocation education system is supply-oriented.18 The same type of human resources is produced annually without taking into consideration the need of the labor market making a workforce mismatch between the supply and demand sides.  Those policies are National Technical Vocational Education and Training Policy 2017-2025, National Employment Policy (2015-2025), Cambodia Industrial Development Policy (2015-2025).

Enforce in 2017, the National TVET Policy is the main policy framework to guide the government’s skills development strategies and coordinate all parties involved. Working with development partners such as Asian Development Bank (ADB), the policy was designed through a consultative process with the goal of transforming and modernizing Cambodia’s skills development system to better serve Cambodia’s future development, existing workers, and new labor force.19 A number of strategies and objectives are identified and implemented to ensure the goals can be achieved on time. National Training Board will serve as a secretariat to oversee the progression of the policy framework. The secretariat will function as the coordinator of the implementation.20

The main goals of the National TVET policy are21

  • to improve TVET quality to meet national and international market demand
  • to increase equitable access to TVET
  • to promote Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and aggregate stakeholder resources to support the sustainable development of the TVET system
  • to improve governance of the TVET system.

The other two important documents that support TVET development are both issued in 2015. The National Employment Policy (2015-2025) is functioned to answer the skill gaps and skill mismatch problem. The policy makes sure that human capital in the kingdom will be able to meet the labor market requirement. Strategies of National Employment Policy (2015-2025) includes the strengthening relationship between education, TVET and private sector to reduce skill gaps and mismatch, encouraging private sectors to provide necessary skill development for the workforce, creating new and developing existing mechanisms for better dialogue among stakeholders and monitoring labor market in the region.22 Likewise, The Cambodia Industrial Development Policy also plays an important role in uplifting the skilled workforce and human capital development in the country. The policy is the national roadmap that is built on the objective of modernizing the economic structures and transforming Cambodia into an industrial-based country. Skills and human resource development are included in its policy measure and action plan. By promoting all levels of education and strengthening technical training capacity, the policy aims to transform the kingdom into a knowledge-based society.

Challenges and opportunities

Though progression is tangible, challenges within Cambodia’s TVET system remain a major concern. One of the biggest complications is financial constraints. 23 TVET training for Cambodians required a huge expenditure given that the existing workforce is low base. 24 The lack of Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) in combination with the limited government’s TVET financial budget, a contribution from private sectors and related stakeholders will be a key solution to this issue.25 Another challenge is the absence of mechanisms and inability to attract an adequate amount of those who need skills training the most including the unemployed, the under-employed, the disadvantaged and the drop-outs. Training pedagogies and learning equipment are also outdated.26 TVET infrastructure is poor and qualified personnel are inadequate.  According to the ADB report, problems also revolve around a negative perspective toward vocational education.27 Young generations still believe that education is the first choice while TVET is the second and only suitable for the poor, vulnerable groups and the drop-outs. Other vocational education problems in Cambodia includes the lack of soft and foundation skills (reading, writing, communication, problem-solving) within the workforce, weak leadership and management, and poor communication and marketing.28

On the bright side, vocational education scholarships are offered and rewarded annually to Cambodian citizens from both the government and developing partners. In the 2020-2021 academic year, The Ministry of labor and vocational training provided around 19, 179 TVET scholarships in the field of engineering and technology.29 Scholarship awards are offered in both public and private institutions across the country and are available in both short-term and long-term courses. In addition, the Asia Development Bank (ADB) in collaboration with the Royal Government of Cambodia, has introduced the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Sector Development Program (TVETSDP) in 2015.30 The program provides support in terms of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) that is equivalent to 30 million USD.31 The program also includes the option of policy-based loans and project loans that value around 30 million USD. TVETSDP will enhance TVET equity and equality to ensure the successful growing access to vocational education, particularly for women and the poor. The program also concentrated on maintaining a demand-driven TVET workforce and enhancing quality TVET human resources to meet the regional standards. 32

Related to Vocational education


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