7/11/16 – This post is the second installment by the team of GSSE students conducting field work in Cambodia this summer for their educational startup company. Read their first post here.
One of the wonderful aspects of the GSSE MBA program is how well the curriculum prepared our team to enter the field. Our coursework taught us that an important technique for entrepreneurs is to learn from best practices and study the gaps. This technique helped guide us in our fieldwork and has allowed us to organize our findings from our multiple interviews, observations, and casual conversations.
We found bright spots following best practices such as Chumkriel Language School, which offers quality education and community growth programs in the salt-producing community of Kampot. Similarly, we found that the Don Bosco Technical School is well-known for offering technical skills and training for youth in Cambodia. Although they have created positive change and impressive outcomes, we recognized some gaps, including a lack of opportunities for students entering into secondary education and a lack of awareness of the vocational school models that exist in Cambodia.
As we move forward, we will work on testing if there are potential business models that are appropriate to fill these gaps. Two potential models include:
- Starting a vocational high school with a curriculum that is designed to enable students to acquire employable skills while receiving a quality general education. The “earn while learn” component is a crucial selling points for both parents and students since at the high school level, students are of working age, and the families cannot afford to lose one source of income when a child goes to school.
- A student recruitment agency for vocational schools would be an excellent opportunity to bridge the information gap between existing potential students, vocational schools and employers. Not many students or parents are aware of the vocational school model, and vocational schools find it challenging to enroll and retain students. Moreover, the supply of vocational skills graduates, particularly in tourism and hospitality, does not meet the employer’s demand.
The success of these models will be based on relationship building with the key stakeholders: parents and students, vocational schools, and employers. Clearly we have lots of work to do! So, off we go!