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Project SIMPLE - creating linkage between the academic and professional sector in Asia

With the purpose of  highlighting the work carried out by our YPARD partner  “ project SIMPLE” and the impact it has made through its main the activities carried out in light of its objective of encouraging the cooperation between the academic sector (HEIs) and professional sector in the area of agriculture and life sciences in selected Asian countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand), leading to an enhanced employability of those universities’ alumni.

Libuška Valešová, YPARD Europe coordinator conducted an interview with  Kheav Noeurn of the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), Cambodia, who manages the language center which provides high-quality English language programs to students in RUA and is also an assistant of the local SIMPLE project coordinator in Cambodia.

Enjoy reading the following interview that provided a first-hand view on the Project SIMPLE achievements in collaboration with RUA.

Libuška: Could you please describe what activities have your university organized within the SIMPLE project?

Kheav: There are many activities that our university (RUA) already organized with the SIMPLE project. Firstly, we have organized several lectures related to CV preparation that turned out to be very important for students. Within these lectures, students coming from many faculties gain much more information on how to write a good CV and Cover Letters. For instance, we often invite a representative of the National   Agency (NEA) to give lectures on writing CVs and Cover Letters to many students, especially the graduate students. Some companies were invited to share their progress and business plans to the students. As more precisely, ACTA-BIO Company was invited to share lectures on entrepreneurship skills to the students studying at the Faculty of Agronomy so that they gain knowledge and accessible information for producing safe vegetables for markets.  Thirdly, we have organized career fairs and job festivals in RUA; there are many companies who joined these events, this enables the possibility to share their job information and network building to students. Also, many students have made direct contact with companies when they wanted or looked for jobs and internship programs. Another activity we thought was very important to carry out were consultation meetings between RUA and the private sectors, resulting in identifying main indicators of complaints and good experiences from the private sectors. So, we can identify and discuss the missing gaps and tackle them properly.

Libuška: How students and Young Professionals benefit from these activities and which of these have had the most significant impact on supporting their future career?

Kheav: With the support of the SIMPLE project, there have been many benefits. Providing to students who are pursuing their studies at RUA. The first interesting one is that students can earn jobs matching their skills and experiences. Through the partnerships, the students can directly contact many companies while joining events such as job fairs, career festivals or guest-lectures. So, they can ask companies and non-organizations about job recruitments. Furthermore, they have the best opportunity to attend internship programs provided by companies. That would be a wonderful experience as they could earn more knowledge and real practice, especially the prospect of job opportunities. On the plus side, building a candid network between students and companies is extremely extraordinary and useful. This is because students can access job information properly resulting in a job, serving in a good position and well-paid salaries.

Libuška: The SIMPLE project is going to be finished in 2019, what are the main lessons learned for you as the young project coordinators?

Kheav: During our work with the SIMPLE project, we believe that we have learned a lot about project coordination. Meanwhile, we can facilitate and manage events properly including career fairs, job festivals, and lecture sharing. We clearly realize what is the administrative work process during the preparation of invitation letters and have learned how to carry it out effectively. What is more, we can prepare tentative schedules and plans for implementing the project so that project activities may go smoothly. For instance, we can draft a tentative agenda for some events as well as flyers. Furthermore, using social media platforms like our Facebook page of Alumni makes us build up a very good network not only with students but also other companies and non-organizations in terms of an Alumni coordinator. More importantly, we can write many reports in the English language, resulting in the improvement of our language proficiency in writing, listing, reading and speaking. Therefore, these provide us a lot of good experiences and wonderful knowledge of working.

Libuška: Does your university intend to follow-up with other projects with CULS and YPARD in 2019?

Kheav: Of course, the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) has recently established its own 10-year strategic plan 2017-2026 to improve the quality of agricultural education levels and to share job markets to many people involved with agricultural sectors. Obviously, Creating a network with local and international partners is one of the strategic plans that the university has been implementing in terms of student and staff mobilities and agricultural innovative technology changes with each other. By doing so, working with the projects, CULS and YPARD in 2019, displays very an important role to boost the development of the university, especially in the increase of the connection with jobs market and students. This is due to the fact that those projects are really important and beneficial for improving the quality learning of students and researchers based on networking between students and private companies. Especially, students who are the main targets will be ready for applying for jobs and earning wonderful knowledge and brilliant experiences from what they work, like internship and experiment for writing a thesis, with private sectors. So, we learn a lot of new things not only the ways of working but also the ways of networking from the projects and we do believe that CULS and YPARD will continuously support our university, especially with students who need to strengthen their networking capacity and work experiences.

Libuška: Is there any success story (within SIMPLE) you would like to share?

Kheav: We do believe that there have been successes during and after implementing the SIMPLE project. The creation of very good communication between the university YPARD and the project is one of the success. This is due to the fact that even though the project will be ending soon the network created with the companies and non-organization exist sustainably. For instance, Angkor Dairy Company which is a big one in Cambodia always call students for internship programs and job sharing, especially students who study at the Faculty of Agro-industry will have the best opportunity to join internship program and work there. Around 90 percent of staff working at the company there come from the Faculty of Agro-industry. RUA is very proud of the fact that many of its graduates are working in this place. Another thing is that many students from RUA can conduct researches or experiments at the companies during their thesis writing. So, the company can support for staying and some incentives for them. Moreover, some companies directly contact to the Alumni about sharing job announcements and internship programs. This would make students access to job information easily and help them to be ready for applying CVs and Cover letters.

Picture credit: 1) Kheav Noeurn, 1-2 Libuška Valešová