Hiring young Cambodian graduates and training them - a feasibility study

Whether you're a working stiff or a business owner yourself, this is the place to discuss all aspects of financing your drinking habit ;-)

NO BUSINESS SALES HERE PLEASE, WE HAVE A SECTION FOR THAT IN THE CLASSIFIEDS.
User avatar
CaptainNemo
Expatriate
Posts: 128
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2019 8:51 pm
Reputation: 22
Location: In t' naughty lass
Kiribati

Hiring young Cambodian graduates and training them - a feasibility study

Post by CaptainNemo »

Hello,

I've read a few threads on here, and get the impression it's very much like other parts of SEAsia, in terms of people having naive notions of how things will be and getting harsh reality checks. Yet, it sounds like some people have found a way to do OK, and perhaps some of that is timing, and some to do with themselves and their background.

It seems normal to berate the natives of any SEAsian country, I've spent time with expats in different SEAsian countries, and they all have plenty of moans.

So to the point... I'm curious about how realistic it might be to hire and train Cambodians fresh out of uni in the area of computing, or whether it's a complete waste of time for one reason or another. You can list risks, and maybe I can already imagine them.
I would like to believe that there are hard working young Khmers who aren't completely cynical and who might be willing and able to stick with a business for a while. I see plenty of Khmers in Thailand, and they generally seem alright and have a better attitude than many Thais. Maybe that's just the nature of Khmers who get up and go to Thailand to work. I've encountered Shan state Burmese in Thailand who were great workers, but it might be a function of their situation and the type that gets up and goes.
There must be types of business that work here where the risks are mitigated and the business is aligned with how the locals are... or is it just down to the barang and the locals are mainly just bodies to satisfy some paperwork process to be able to do business here?

In an ideal world, I would like to hire young computer programming graduates, and train them and pay them less than they would cost in Thailand, and help them get certiificates in lieu of pay, rather than throw too much money at people who haven't proved themselves yet. I don't know whether there are categories of people who might be better than others, I kind of assume that women will work harder than men and be less demanding and more collaborative, but maybe that's just hyperbole.

Any thoughts?
I'm not like other boys...
explorer
Expatriate
Posts: 2417
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:37 pm
Reputation: 766
Australia

Re: Hiring young Cambodian graduates and training them - a feasibility study

Post by explorer »

Check out the universities where they study, and see if you can get an idea how much they learn. In some universities they may learn more than in others.

I am not sure what you want them to be able to do, and what level of knowledge is required. So I am not sure how much more training is required.

There are different individuals. Some may have a good attitude, and put in a reasonable amount of effort. Others might be slack. It may take time to build up a good team. You may call it a training position, and tell them you will only hire those who perform well.

I am not sure where you are from, and how they work in that part of the world. In Cambodia it is normal to have rest periods during work. They may also have more days off than people working in a wealthy country. It may take time for you to learn what is reasonable here.
## I thought I knew all the answers, but they changed all the questions. ##
CamExpat
Expatriate
Posts: 79
Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:27 pm
Reputation: 27
Canada

Re: Hiring young Cambodian graduates and training them - a feasibility study

Post by CamExpat »

CaptainNemo wrote: Sun Sep 29, 2019 4:22 am
In an ideal world, I would like to hire young computer programming graduates, and train them and pay them less than they would cost in Thailand, and help them get certiificates in lieu of pay, rather than throw too much money at people who haven't proved themselves yet.
This may be 1 area where you are running into difficulties. I've managed IT professionals in many countries in SE asia. You can't start with giving them a value proposition they are worth less then the market and should be taking training in lieu of pay; this will become a self-fulfilling prophesy and only those who are well below what you are looking for will sign up. (Because they have no other options). Can you imagine the loss of face when your employee explains to his family why he is making a less then stellar salary? Family plays a huge role in employment decisions in this region. So much so that benefit plans often include medical care for elderly relations, not just spouses and children. Recruitment drives for top graduates in include bringing in extended families into the company and impressing upon them what a good opportunity they are for their son or daughter. I've seen people make really stupid career and employment decisions after consulting with family who knew nothing about the industry.

There are good and bad employees as with most of the world, but I have seen more extremes of bad behaviour in Asia, from simply not showing up for work, not doing the work, doing work for a second job on company time, falsifying credentials etc. These employees need to be fired quickly. Generally most employees put in an honest effort with varying degrees of success. It can also be harder to assess candidates because of language and cultural barriers and local managers will often hire off personal relationships rather then competence; as a result I've hired (and had to fire) a higher percentage of bad employees then I typically did in developed countries. I have found more success with having local managers in place to manage front-line staff day-to-day then hiring expats. (Both can be successful though). Its not always possible to find enough qualified local managers.

In most countries like cambodia, good employees are looking to work for multinationals and big branded employers they can brag about to their friends and family. These same companies are already exploiting the labour arbitrage your trying to leverage and these are the employers you'll be competing with for talent. This may explain a bit your experiences in thailand with Khymer expats.

I havent managed any Khymer IT staff in Cambodia. I am sure there are other local nuances here.
User avatar
CaptainNemo
Expatriate
Posts: 128
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2019 8:51 pm
Reputation: 22
Location: In t' naughty lass
Kiribati

Re: Hiring young Cambodian graduates and training them - a feasibility study

Post by CaptainNemo »

Thanks for your replies.

To answer CamExpat, I'm British. I have a UK company, a Thai incarnation of that company, and want to set up a Cambodian incarnation of that company.

I want to train them to do coding in languages like C/C++/C#.

Typically in the UK, and most likely anywhere else, kids come out of an Electronics or a Computer Science degree with less than adequate coding skills, and loads of theory knowledge, which is fine. You're hiring for attitude as much as aptitude. I want to be able to set them a task or project, and leave them to it, and not be a helicopter.
Out and out coders who've been doing it since they were children often lack theory, best practice, and organisational skills, so either way, you have to train people up.

My main strategy has been to train up young relatives, my three Thai-British kids and a Thai-Khmer niece, and after 8 years, that's worked quite well, the eldest of these lot is far in advance of most graduates I've known, and they're still at secondary (i.e. high) school. So I feel I have a good idea of how to train a youngster up and what in.
In fact, the training itself is viable as a business, I've recently been offered a viable rate to train a group of Thai-farang kids, but I'm not sure if that's what I want to do.

The Thai niece is an interesting case in point, as I've had to train them in technical English (ab initio really) and engineering maths, which they won't get at school, and they wouldn't get in school in the UK either.

I read a bit about Cambodia and the poor education rates, especially for women. I've seen the sort of job adverts you get in Asia where they specify age and gender and ask for a photo, and to a Brit that sort of thing is an anathema. However, maybe I can use that to my advantage.
I have a notion in my head that if I chose to only hire female staff, and create a female-friendly environment, then we might have better odds of finding the sort of people we need, and people that might stick around, if we have female/family friendly policies (my Thai wife is an engineer, and we've talked about this as an idea).

I can imagine that for the sort of cultural reasons you mention, hiring young men might come with the baggage of expectations that don't accompany hiring young women. I guess there might be less pay pressure too.

Like with any business you either go niche or mass, and if you haven't got big capital, you have to go niche, and dine off of buzzwords like "startup".


In response to explorer,
Yeah, because I am on the Thai side of the border, and linking it with a Thai company, I'm mainly looking at Poipet and Siem Reap as places to base this. There's no particular reason to be in the capital as far as I can see. Poipet seems busy and large, and there's plenty of labour passing back and forth to and from Aranyaprathet, but no universities, and nothing much at Sisophon, so for that reason, it looks like Siem Reap will have to be the place I start looking, and at least I have Khmer friends there.
I've heard a bit of derision of the idea of using Khmer staff and that I might have keep my expectations low, but I'm hoping there might be some out there who can see an opportunity and buy into what would be in effect a graduate training programme, as we call them in the UK.

Thanks for your replies, though.
I'm not like other boys...
explorer
Expatriate
Posts: 2417
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:37 pm
Reputation: 766
Australia

Re: Hiring young Cambodian graduates and training them - a feasibility study

Post by explorer »

In Siem Reap you should find a higher proportion of Cambodians speak English, compared to other places in Cambodia, which should be an advantage.
## I thought I knew all the answers, but they changed all the questions. ##
User avatar
CaptainNemo
Expatriate
Posts: 128
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2019 8:51 pm
Reputation: 22
Location: In t' naughty lass
Kiribati

Re: Hiring young Cambodian graduates and training them - a feasibility study

Post by CaptainNemo »

Sure. The fact that you can fly to and from Bangkok helps too. It seemed like SR has nearly a dozen universities and maybe some colleges too, and perhaps isn't too far to drive to from Poipet.
I'm not like other boys...
CamExpat
Expatriate
Posts: 79
Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:27 pm
Reputation: 27
Canada

Re: Hiring young Cambodian graduates and training them - a feasibility study

Post by CamExpat »

Is the business training new graduates or are you recruiting / training staff for your existing business?

What you described having done so far was a bit lengthy and required a fairly big investment of your own time. Would you be able to scale this?

There is a startup in Singapore who is taking a similar approach to retrain experienced IT professionals whose skills have slipped using 16 months of training followed by an 8 month industry internship. This meshes well with the SG government focus on lifelong learning and retraining workers as economies shift. He's managed to secure support from the SG government to do so.

Generally agree re: self sufficient teams able to complete their own work. You would need a mix of seniority unless they were supported by senior staff out of TH or uk.
User avatar
Bitte_Kein_Lexus
Expatriate
Posts: 3902
Joined: Sun May 18, 2014 7:32 pm
Reputation: 940

Re: Hiring young Cambodian graduates and training them - a feasibility study

Post by Bitte_Kein_Lexus »

I don't have any direct experience, but I know someone who works in that field and employs local programmers. He pays them quite well, but says that sometimes they get too focused on one tiny thing, and it's hard for them to fall back and see the bigger picture (whatever that means). Or they'll fail to tell someone about a coding mistake early on, which ends up in a lot of time and $$ finding the mistake and fixing it. Some are apparently also cocky because they know they're some of the best in the country, so that sometimes makes it hard to work with them/point out their mistakes. Again, this isn't from me and I don't know much about the field.

More broadly speaking, I can say that:
1-You won't find fresh graduates very skilled here, even in their "field of expertise". I'm not familiar with Thailand, but there's no question that you'll get a fraction of the knowledge you'd expect back home. It's a bit of a generalization, but it's pretty much across the board regardless of the industry. I know doctors, IT specialists and so on and that's a recurring theme. I've even heard it from Khmers who have gone to study abroad, or go to conferences abroad and then quickly realize that their skills and knowledge are subpar, much to their embarrassment. For those, it's usually a humbling experience which upon their return, makes them better rather than full of themselves.
2-As mentioned above, you won't be able to retain anyone unless you increase their salary in accordance to their growing know edge and skills (so, yearly given that you'd be training them yourself). Otherwise, you'll have a huge retention problem, negating all the time and effort you'd be putting into training them in the first place. Those who are interested in programming and also quite often self-taught, so it might be worth looking at a broader spectrum than initially expected (they might also end up being more motivated).

Despite what you tend to hear from bitter old expats, I think there are a lot of knowledge-hungry fresh graduates around. They grew up in a vastly different setting from their parents (or even elder siblings!), so there's a lot more critical thinking and a more global work ethic than in the past. As with anything though, it falls down to the individual. Some people are open to constructive criticism, some aren't and so on. Some are hungry to learn, others are content to their own world and so on... I find younger Khmers are usually quite open to constructive advice and how things should be done vs cutting corners to finish quickly.
Ex Bitteeinbit/LexusSchmexus
User avatar
frank lee bent
Expatriate
Posts: 11330
Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 4:10 am
Reputation: 2090
United States of America

Re: Hiring young Cambodian graduates and training them - a feasibility study

Post by frank lee bent »

My Khmer friend is constantly trying to hire full stack dev grads for his website development team and offers $600/pm to start with rapid promotion. He finds it difficult to recruit and retain them.
User avatar
Username Taken
Raven
Posts: 11989
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 6:53 pm
Reputation: 3532
Contact:
Cambodia

Re: Hiring young Cambodian graduates and training them - a feasibility study

Post by Username Taken »

Once you get them trained up, they'll be looking to branch out on their own with their new knowledge. Retention is difficult here with good workers.
Who let all of this riff-raff into the room?

https://BooksAboutCambodia.com
Post Reply Previous topicNext topic
  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 98 guests