Coming from a small village of Kulen district located in Preah Vihear Province, Pen Sokleang has recently finished a Building Electrical Wiring course at the National Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (NIEI). Sokleang, now 23 years old, dropped out of school after her secondary education and began running a small electrical shop to support her family. Being the firstborn of the family, the responsibility of earning an income fell on her shoulders. However, without skills and experience, the income did not meet her family's daily needs.
But Sokleang never easily gave up on her dreams, and always found ways to improve her small business to earn a better livelihood. “Gaining skills was my only thought to grow my business and generate more income. With my smartphone, I searched every day for training opportunities and finally found an interesting electrical course at NIEI through their Facebook page,” said Sokleang. “I was so happy to hear about this programme, it inspired me! This opportunity was meaningful for me. Immediately, I decided to enroll without any hesitation. My whole family was always behind me” she added.
NIEI joined forces with the Skills Development Programme (SDP) of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, to ensure continuous access to quality training despite the pandemic. A blended learning model has been applied since the schools were ordered closed. It requires trainees to study online and practice at a place comfortable for them with the facilitation of the Institute. Sokleang started her training course following this model. “The outbreak was a barrier for us to study at the Institute. Even on the opening day, we gathered online to receive an orientation on how to use online tools such as Zoom and Telegram allowing us to learn remotely. The most challenging thing for me is the connectivity issues. The connection is very slow in my area, thus I sometimes dropped off the training session. Fortunately, my trainer always uploads the recorded key lessons in our Telegram group, so that other trainees and I can revise later if we miss any part.”.
SDP is working closely with NIEI to apply educational technologies of all types to provide remote learning opportunities for trainees to ensure high-quality training. “I’ve noticed such a difference in myself. Not only have I gained technical skills but I also learned a lot on soft skills including communication, teamwork, and how to build a good relationship. Even though I can not get a traineeship anywhere for now, at least I can practice in my own shop. This is a valuable asset to boost my sales and to grow my business.” she added. “In the future, I would like to enlarge my shop. If the time allows, I will pursue my studies to a bachelor’s degree. I think I am now on the right track. Thanks to NIEI and the SDP programme to support me in achieving my dreams.”