Paragon and Institute of Banking MoU to bridge gap

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Minister of Education HE Dr Hang Chuon Naron (centre left) presided over the MoU signing ceremony. Hean Rangsey

The Institute of Banking and Finance Cambodia (IBF) on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Paragon International University Cambodia promoting a collaboration to bridge the skills gap between academic institutions’ programmes and the needs of the banking industry.

Minister of Education, Youth and Sport HE Dr Hang Chuon Naron presided over the formalising of the MoU at a signing ceremony also graced by HE Chea Serey, assistant governor and director-general of Central Banking at the National Bank
of Cambodia.

Members of the board of directors and senior management of the IBF and Paragon – as well as senior officials from the Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC) and the Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA) – were also in attendance.

Through the MoU, the IBF and Paragon will collaborate in various initiatives to bridge the gap between the rapidly evolving skills needs of the banking industry and what is provided by the higher education system.

“Higher education programmes in Cambodia have expanded rapidly to meet the needs of the growth in various sectors, but this growth has lacked synchronisation with the requirements of industry due to the non-existence of collaborations and cooperation between the two.

“I applaud this initiative led by the IBF, and supported by the ABC and CMA, as well as the positive cooperation of Paragon International University in participating in this inaugural collaboration. I look forward to seeing more of such collaborative efforts, including with our local public universities,” Minister of Education Chuon Naron said.

He added that the collaboration will showcase how employers and universities can work together with a systemic approach to improve the capacity and employment prospects of graduates, and serve as the inspiration for other industries to work with the relevant educational institutions to do so as well.

The key objective of the collaboration is to equip Cambodian graduates with the quality competencies relevant to their future employment and further strengthen the Kingdom’s socio-economic development.

“The purpose of this MoU is to bridge the gap in terms of the industry’s needs and the institutions’ programmes. This is to make sure that institutions produce industry-ready graduates. This is done through the alignment of their curriculum with the competency framework produced by the industry.

“This will help the sector reduce the amount of investment necessary in training new graduates as they will already have the skills the industry needs,” said IBF general manager Chea Kagnarith.

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Paragon rector Deth Sok Oudom and the IBF’s Chea Kagnarith. Hean Rangsey

The collaboration also aims to enhance the status of the banking and finance sector through the promotion of industry-endorsed certification and ensuring graduates are industry ready, while furthering industry-driven capacity-building and education.

“In improving education, everyone should play a role, especially as an industry. The National Bank of Cambodia has worked with the industry to initiate the IBF, and it is pleased to see the impact the IBF has had on the overall ecosystem of banking capacity building from graduates to banking professionals.

“Together this is contributing towards a knowledge-based economy and serving a purpose towards the country’s economic development and sustained growth,” said HE Chea Serey, assistant governor and director-general of Central Banking at the National Bank of Cambodia.

The MoU also offers Paragon’s students and faculty members the opportunity to develop and improve their skills, knowledge and networks in the banking and finance industry.

“There should be a symbiotic relationship between the industry and academia so that both will benefit from one another and have a win-win situation. Through the IBF, both the ABC and CMA have been able to execute various capacity-building efforts that have benefited Cambodian bankers across the industry.

“The MoU signifies a key milestone as we can now look forward to the increased and continuous efforts of higher education institutions in continuously redesigning and revising their curricula with particular relevance to the needs of the banking sector and the dynamic nature of the business world,” said ABC chairman Dr In Channy.

HE Eang Sophalleth – Paragon’s honorary chairperson – hailed the success of the university’s alumni, especially from the Department of Banking and Finance.

“The MoU signing ceremony between Paragon International University and the Institute of Banking and Finance gives strong testimony to the university’s commitment to further building university-industry partnerships.

“I am confident that through this MoU on the offering of the ‘Retail and Commercial Lending’ course at Paragon, we will be able to further contribute to training students and the next generation of banking and finance professionals – who will not only be able to work in Cambodia, but at any financial institution in the world,” said Sophalleth.