Hospitality training led to a decent future for low-skilled workers and disadvantaged youth

Continuing Vocational Education and Training
Perseverance and encouragement led three young Cambodians to turn themselves into successful business owners or managers after taking part in the Hospitality Kampuchea (HoKa) training programme, with the support of the Skills Development Programme (SDP). This success convinced them to become HoKa trainers to share knowledge, skills, and attitude with the young generation, particularly low-skilled workers, contributing to the rebooting of the tourism sector in Cambodia.

Ul Vitou is the owner of The Coffee Time in Kratie City in Kratie Province. Having taken part in the HoKa training programme in 2018, he now is a HoKa industry trainer in his province. 

This training has also helped Vitou be more successful with his own café.

Ul Vitou, owner of The Coffee Time in Kratie Province 
"After completing this training, I could use the knowledge and skills gained to train my staff. HoKa has provided us with many skills such as technical skills, soft skills, and entrepreneurship skills, as well as knowledge on environmental protection and climate change mitigation."
Ul Vitou, owner of The Coffee Time in Kratie Province

Attending the training took hard work and dedication, Vitou said. And then, studying to become a trainer was no easy task either. “To become a trainer, we need to understand the teaching methods, theory, and technical skills that need to be taught first,” he said.

The pandemic did not make matters easier, Vitou said. “In the context of COVID-19, it required both online and face-to-face learning, so I need to be flexible.” During the training, the HoKa Steering Committee of the Ministry of Tourism, the Kratie Provincial Department of Tourism, as well as the Skills Development Programme team never stopped encouraging him to keep on studying, he said. “In the end, I was able to become a trainer recognised by the Ministry of Tourism.”

Eager to show his appreciation for the HoKa programme, Vitou said, “I am committed to helping the community by sharing the knowledge  skills and attitude I gained from the training with the community.” Moreover, he said, without the HoKa training model, the business at his own café would not grow as today.

Meas Ratha, currently manager of the White House Guesthouse in Preah Vihear Province, has a similar goal. “I was excited to be selected as a HoKa industry trainer because it was in line with my wishes,” she said. “Being a trainer…I will try to teach and share all this knowledge, skills, and experiences with disadvantaged youth and school dropouts so that they have a chance to get decent jobs.”

Meas Ratha, Manager of the White House Guesthouse in Preah Vihear Province
"The reason why I wanted to be a front-line office trainer was that I want to share what I possessed with others so they will have the courage to learn, work and have the opportunity to show their abilities to improve tourism services."
Meas Ratha, Manager of the White House Guesthouse in Preah Vihear Province

The HoKa training model made her change a great deal at work. “The HoKa programme has made me more attentive and understanding,” she said. “In the past, we were less patient [at the guesthouse]…when guests complained, we sometimes complained back. But now I can handle it better. All these are soft skills that I gained from HoKa training.”

Ratha is convinced that the HoKa training is really valuable and can truly help improve service in the hospitality industry sectors in addition to creating opportunities for people to get training that will help them earn a good living. 

Thang Vatey also became a HoKa industry trainer specialising in food and beverage service after taking part in the Hoka Training Programme.

Currently the owner of Domino Restaurant in Stung Treng Province, he said that, in addition to technical skills, he acquired soft skills such as communication, problem-solving, behavior, makeup, safety, and food hygiene through this training programme. 

Thang Vatey, Owner of Domino Restaurant in Stung Treng Province
"After graduating, I was very happy because I had gained good skills and many benefits for the food and beverage service. I am really excited and proud to be a person with specific skills. No matter where we go, there is no shortage of decent work to do."
Thang Vatey, Owner of Domino Restaurant in Stung Treng Province

Vatey is very confident in the HoKa training, which can provide low-skilled workers or business owners with real practical skills to serve customers better, he said. Moreover, this training can also create jobs for young people who are poor and cannot pursue their education to get decent jobs.

Continuing to teach and share his knowledge and skills with young people in addition to running his restaurant is not a problem for Vatey, he said, as he truly enjoys his role as a trainer that enables him to educate disadvantaged people or youths needing skills to get good jobs in his area.

The three role models are truly convinced that the HoKa training can help change the lives of low-skilled workers and disadvantaged youth by providing them with the knowledge, skills, and soft skills to get decent jobs and increased incomes. As business owners, they also see the training as enabling them to get the knowledge and find the staff that will help businesses run better and offer high standard and good quality service to customers.

The HoKa training model is being supported by the Skills Development Programme, a project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism. Focusing on five target provinces, Kratie, Mondulkiri, Preah Vihear, Ratanakkiri, and Stung Treng provinces, HoKa has so far taught more than 1,000 trainers and trainees to strengthen professionalism in tourism.

2020 - 2024
Initial vocational education and training, Labour market insertion, Sustainable tourism
Skills Development Programme
The overall goal of the Skills Development Programme (SDP) is for disadvantaged young women and men and low-skilled workers in five rural provinces of Cambodia (Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Kratie, Mondulkiri and Rattanakiri) to gain access to decent employment and increased income.