Cambodia Asks, Should Internships Be Paid?

Cambodia Asks, Should Internships Be Paid?

BY: Sao Phal Niseiy of Cambodianess November 22, 2021 5:01 PM

With increasing opportunities to develop skills as interns, students, employers and education specialists debate whether more regulation is needed to ensure opportunities are accessible for all.

PHNOM PENH--More Cambodians are debating the issue of whether or not internships should be paid, as an increasing number of students now seek opportunities to intern and boost their skills before joining an increasingly competitive job market.

 This comes at a time when internships are becoming more visible in Cambodian society, with more companies and organizations offering work experience to students in order to better prepare them for the workplace.

Ou Ritthy, founder of students and youth consulting and mentoring platform Sour Mouy, said that he has seen a mixture of paid and unpaid internships being offered to students, but was surprised to note that many larger organizations and institutions—notably embassies—are still running unpaid intern programs, despite having the resources to pay students for their time.

“Interestingly, what I see, in contrast, is small, local non-governmental organizations are providing internship with payments,” Ritthy said. Paid internships, Ritthy said, are extremely helpful for young Cambodians, especially students who do not come from wealthy backgrounds or who have moved from rural provinces to study in cities like Phnom Penh.

“Of course, they want to gain experience and knowledge but they also need to spend on a daily basis, for example, for fuel, food, and accommodation,” he continued, adding that, “I used to be an intern myself at an international organization with no payment so I can understand this issue.”

Many young people now are more qualified and capable of doing the work than current employees, even though they’re just interns, Ritthy argued. He underlined how crucial it is for organizations to change their policy on unpaid internships.

“Sometimes, despite being interns, they work as hard as employed staff. Moreover, our youngsters are smart, digitally literate as well as proficient in foreign languages. Why don’t they get some incentives for their hard works and commitment?” Ritthy questioned.

The change that Ritthy has been pushing for is one that would ease the financial burdens on underprivileged students and make potentially career-changing opportunities more inclusive and accessible—this is a debate that has long raged on beyond Cambodia....

To read a full article: