Career guidance gives Cambodian youth means to plan for their future and find employment

FCA supports career guidance and counseling in Cambodia.
Students during career fair in Battambang in 2018. Photo: Thomas Hommeyer

Career guidance and counselling has generated promising results in decreasing school drop-out rates and giving youth means to find employment in Cambodia. The Swedish International Development Agency, SIDA, has allocated 23,000,000 SEK (2.2 million in euros) to continue the provision of career guidance and counselling in secondary schools and job centers in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey.

The three-year project “Career Guidance and Counselling in Secondary Schools – the bridge to employment” is jointly implemented by Swedish Public Employment Service (SPES), Finn Church Aid (FCA), Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the National Employment Agency in Cambodia.

The estimated number of students benefiting from the project is 10 000.

The project aims to increased labour market participation of Cambodian youth by increasing their awareness of the wide variety of professions and available study paths they need to take in order to find employment. In addition, youth’s ability to recognize their skills is strengthened in order for them to aspire careers they find motivating.

“Cambodian youth, like youth everywhere in the world, has tremendous potential which is currently not used in the best possible way for their own benefit, or for the benefit of their families and communities. It is important that today’s youth have a good education, are able to gain a decent living and grasp the opportunities in a fast changing world. This is where career guidance and counselling comes into the picture”, says Saara Lehmuskoski, FCA’s country director in Cambodia.

Nearly two thirds of the Cambodian population are under 30 years old. For Cambodia’s economy to continue growing, it needs motivated young professionals who have relevant skills and education.

The project will combine local knowledge with the know-how from Finland and Sweden through collaboration with different governmental and non-governmental actors. It is a continuation of an earlier career guidance and counselling project that was implemented by the same project partners.

“In FCA we look forward to taking the good work further with new Swedish government funding, and adding collaboration with the National Employment Agency in Cambodia, the Swedish Public Employment Service and Cambodian Teacher Education Institutions. We will be able to reach thousands of new students and establish sustainable structural solutions for Cambodia”, Lehmuskoski continues.

FCA has developed Cambodia’s career guidance and counselling system in collaboration with the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports since 2014. The first-ever career counselors in the country were trained in 2015-2016 by making use of the expertise of FCA’s Teachers Without Borders network.

Today, career counselling and guidance is incorporated in the national curriculum, and more counselors are continuously being trained in cooperation with the Cambodian Ministry of Education. The new project will lay the basis for expanding career guidance and counselling services across Cambodia on an even larger scale.

Finn Church Aid (FCA) is the largest Finnish organization in international aid. FCA has been working in Cambodia since the early 1980s by providing humanitarian aid and supporting the development of livelihoods, quality education and youth participation.

Arbetsförmedlingen – the Swedish Public Employment Services – is a government-funded agency working on behalf of the Swedish parliament and government.