WWD: Vocational Training Institute Opens for Cambodian Garment Workers

August 15, 2017

By Dene-Hern Chen

 Children cycle past a newly opened vocational training institute for Cambodian garment workers in Phnom Penh. (Credit: Dene-Hern Chen) 

Children cycle past a newly opened vocational training institute for Cambodian garment workers in Phnom Penh. (Credit: Dene-Hern Chen) 

PHNOM PENH – A new vocational training institute for Cambodia’s garment workers — the first in the country — aims to augment the industry’s flagging competitiveness in the region, a move that international buyers like H&M and Marks & Spencer welcomed.

Last year, Cambodia produced $7.3 billion in apparel and footwear exports, making the sector the country’s most valuable. But manufacturers often warn that its neighboring countries, Vietnam and Myanmar, are looming regional threats, given Cambodia’s monthly minimum wage of $153, its low productivity, and its lack of skilled labor.

With a $3 million loan to construct its facilities in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone from Agence Française de Développement, the development body of the French government, the Cambodian Garment Training Institute started offering its first classes in July, attracting more than 80 students from four factories. August classes, which have about 50 students signed up, will focus on quality assurance in the factory and streamlining workplace and decision-making processes.

These classes are for workers in the middle management track of member factories of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, all of which pooled together $700,000 to cover the operation costs of the first three years. This amount will be used to sponsor employees from member factories, since workers might not be able to afford them. The courses on hand include apparel development and design making, digital and computer-aided design pattern drafting, social accountability compliance, quality assurance and lean manufacturing. There are also sewing courses available.

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