Friday, 11 July 2014

Outsourcing Education

“I’ve talked with the prime minister about this [lack of qualified workers]…. We take it very seriously. But education and vocational training is not a government affair alone... How can we from the government side or parents from their side think about engineers yet… when, for example, we don’t have enough oil and gas to provide jobs in that sector. You need to show there is more confidence in that sector first... Investors must provide proper training to do something for vocational training. We will add it to the new law,” he said.

Council for Development of Cambodia secretary-general Sok Chenda, 28 November 2013

“People are coming into the sector [banking] without vocational skills…financial analysis, risk analysis…. We aim to recreate an efficient body to provide fundamental-level training for entry-level bankers.”

CEO of ANZ Royal Bank Grant Knuckey, 28 November 2103

Is passing the education bucket to private sector a creative idea, or just a confirmation of the government disinterest in technical education, or its incompetence, or all of the above?

Sok Chenda sounds reasonable when expecting the local oil and gas industry to be commercially viable first before the government and parents can think about engineering schools for children. There is no point of committing resources into anything that is not viable.

However, the government has not really cared that much for any viable industry. The banking sector has been for years consolidating and flourishing; yet, ANZ Royal Bank still finds it difficult to find local qualified workers for the bank. Why is it so? Assuming other banks have the same staff problem, and based on Sok Chenda’s thinking, this means the government’s confidence in the banking sector has not yet reached a point where it will move decisively to improve the banking vocational skill.

Anyway, it seems the ANZ Royal Bank is prepared to train its own new staff. Is this because it is so profitable that it can afford the additional cost? Or does it plan to increase interest rate and fees to cover the costs later? Or is it strategically too late for now for the Bank to divest?

Meanwhile, just to make sure, Sok Chenda now plans to legally force the private sector to fund their own training program for their new workers. Will this additional cost to investors encourage new investments into any industry in Cambodia?

Nevertheless, if the intended passing-the-bucket law works out, then this semi-government will be relieved of a responsibility that a normal full government takes on.


(Disclosure: My spouse is a shareholder of ANZ Bank Ltd, which partly owns ANZ Royal Bank.)

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