Skills sponsorship: what’s it all about?

Project EDM _lowdefTogether with financial sponsorship and sponsorship in kind, skills sponsorship is one of the three mechanisms available to a commercial organisation to support a charity.

In skills sponsorship, the partner company gives its employees the opportunity to participate actively in supporting the needs of a charity by volunteering their professional skills in a specific area. For the NGO, it is a free skills transfer.

For four years we have been studying the needs of our young Cambodian students who, through sponsorship, have progressed further in their studies and are thus now being supported in our education centres. One of the aims of our centres is to equip our students with skills so that they are better prepared to enter the labour market. In this context, various business training needs have arisen:

-      Engineering project management

-      Business IT

-      Setting up a business

-      Use of particular software applications

-      Team management, etc.

These training modules have been suggested to our partner companies who, for three years, have been sending their employees to live with our students for ten days to teach them specific business skills. Not only engineers, consultants and departmental managers, but also administrative staff (bookkeepers and personal assistants) have come to meet our students, to find out what we do, and to pass on their key skills to broaden our students’ knowledge.

Strong links are formed and new lives are created! A partnering business participates by financially supporting our centres and enhancing the skills of those of its employees who actively contribute to this project – a project that is both human and unifying, because it is an enterprise supporting future professionals coming from Asia.

Case study

DSC02913_lowdef“In September 2012, I was delighted to be selected, together with my colleague Kevin, to work as a volunteer teacher on a six-day computer-aided design training course in Phnom Penh. Organised as part of the skills sponsorship programme of the Artelia Foundation for Children of the Mekong, the course was to promote a culture of excellence, providing Cambodian students with both theoretical and practical experience of using AutoCad. It was also intended to give the students a taste of the realities and demands of professional life.

We soon found out that although the students’ level of knowledge was higher than we had expected, the difference between our two cultures meant that we had to do lots of practical work. Education in Cambodia is very different from that in the Netherlands or France, because it is difficult to know what the students really understand. Because they have great respect for their teachers, they always answer ‘yes’ when asked if they understand something! It was only by doing practical exercises that we could see what they really had learned.

This training course was a unique experience for us. I think it was very useful for the students to better understand how AutoCad could help them become architects or engineers. They now have a good basis on which to develop their software skills for the rest of their studies and when they start work. Very soon after the course we received a message from one of our students telling us that they had been selected to train to become an architect!”

Erik Schaaf, Project Leader at Artelia Netherlands

Do you want to involve your company in sponsoring skills for Children in the Mekong? Contact Eugenie Prouvost: eugenie@childrenofthemekong.org

By Alban d’Avout, Head of Partnerships. Originally published in Enfants du Mekong magazine.

Children of the Mekong

Children of the Mekong (“COTM”) is a London-based charity registered with the UK Charity Commission (1116375). It is the UK branch of “Enfants du Mekong” (“EDM”) a French charity founded in Laos in 1958 and active in 7 countries in Southeast Asia: Burma, Cambodia, China (Yunnan), Laos, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. COTM’s mission is to educate, train and mentor the poorest children and young people in the regions where it operates.

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