From poverty to successful self-employment

Upskilling and reskilling
28.10.2021
“Without skills, I would have become a migrant worker in Thailand. Thanks to the Skills Development Programme (SDP) of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, I found a way out of poverty. My dream of becoming the owner of a business for electrical installations is becoming reality,” recounts 19 years-old Kin Soktheary. 

Originally from Kratie province, Soktheary was born into a poor family as one of 5 children. His father is a soldier and his mother stays at home to take care of the household and family. His father’s small income cannot support the whole family. Soktheary’s family’s situation forced him to abandon his education in grade ten. “I couldn’t learn in school anymore because I didn’t have enough money to pay the school fees,” he says, with disappointment on his face.

The financial strain did not stop Soktheary from chasing his dream. He excitedly enrolled in a technical and vocational training course offered by the Provincial Training Center after hearing about this opportunity in his  community.

"I was excited to join the training course in Electrical Maintenance & Fitting. I have learned so many new skills! I hope to help my whole family with the gained knowledge and skills," he adds.

Soktheary practicing in class, this photo was taken before Covid-19 forced the schools closed.

But then the school was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. Soktheary and the other trainees had to adapt to e-learning. “First, it was complicated because unlike before I could not immediately ask my trainer if I did not understand certain things,” Soktheary explains. “However, I tried to overcome the challenge. He continued in the training course thanks to his trainer who linked him to workplaces to practice his skills during this hard time. “We were not able to practice in the training centre anymore. I am really grateful to my trainer who involved us in his daily business. I was able to practice not only my skill-based learning from school, but I also generated some income. I earned 10 USD a day as a small incentive. On average, I got around 150 USD per month. This helped to ease the financial burden on my family,” he says. 

Soktheary is practicing his technical skills at the training centre

Since then, Theary decided to become self-employed and to earn sufficiently to support his family. He also started to transfer his knowledge to his older brother. 

“Being alone at work is not easy. After working alone for a while, I encouraged my elder brother to help me. I am teaching him what I learned, and we are now able to provide more comprehensive services to our customers,“ Soktheary mentions. “Together with my brother I am on the right pathway to reach my dream. We plan to set up a small electrical shop with our little savings very soon,” he adds.

"I would like to encourage young women and men to consider enrolling in vocational training courses. I strongly believe that having skills can help us get better jobs and make our lives better in the future."
Kin Soktheary
Soktheary is installing wires for his customers.
Cambodia
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.