Many people's working lives have been altered as a result of the global pandemic, including in Cambodia. As a responsible corporate citizen, Prince Group Chairman Chen Zhi and Prince Group founded the Prince Horology Vocational Training Center, Cambodia's first independent watch school. The training centre provides Cambodians with the opportunity to learn a new artisanal skill – watchmaking – and acquire the requisite experience to support them in work markets in Cambodia and abroad. The training centre adheres to the stringent watchmaking regulations outlined by Swiss regulatory bodies.
Cambodia, as a nation steeped in history, has long retained artisanal skills for centuries, with the Kingdom well-known for its ancient handwoven silk and traditional handicraft industries that boast a heritage dating back to the time of the Khmer Empire, a significance that Chen Zhi and Prince Group have always recognised and appreciated.
However, new artisanal skills must be implemented to boost job opportunities for Cambodians, particularly since the textile and garment industry, like other sectors, has suffered greatly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with media reports suggesting that more than 55,000 workers have been stranded without an income.
Many Cambodians have returned to agriculture and started small businesses in order to rebalance their lives. To that end, Chen Zhi and Prince Group have established the Prince Horology Vocational Training Center in Phenom Penh, Cambodia, to help introduce opportunities to learn new skills.
The cutting-edge centre offers a full-time, two-year course based on the certificate fédéral de capacité (CFC), Swiss government-defined vocational training requirements that are widely regarded as the industry standard for basic watchmaking education.
As part of Chen Zhi and Prince Group's climate, social, and governance (ESG) efforts in Cambodia, the centre also provides scholarships to local students and others in need of financial assistance, ranging from a 50 percent subsidy of school fees to a fully funded scholarship that includes housing. The first group of students has begun their watchmaking journey.
Prince Group has recruited world-class watchmakers, including Maarten Pieters, a former director of Switzerland's leading watchmaking academy, the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program (WOSTEP).
Furthermore, Anthony McGonigle, the center's chief teacher and one of the brothers from Ireland's most prominent watchmaking family, compiled the syllabus, which includes lessons on the history and culture of watchmaking, as well as benchwork, such as machining, micro-mechanics, and manufacturing of components such as the winding stem and balance staff, among others. The centre also focuses on traditional artisanal skills such as decoration and turning.“I am delighted to announce the opening of the Prince Horology Vocational Training Center, Cambodia's first independent watch school. “All of the center's new machinery and equipment have been imported from Switzerland, Germany, and other countries,” said Prince Group Chairman Neak Oknha Chen Zhi. “We have also assembled a world-class team to teach Cambodian and foreign students new skills that will make them successful in work markets in Cambodia and abroad.”
Last year, Prince Group lived up to its ESG obligations in venture groups. It made numerous large-scale donations to aid in the war against the pandemic and aided flood victims in Cambodia. To date, the Prince Charitable Foundation Organization has coordinated over 240 charitable activities and donated funds and other materials totaling more than US$11 million, benefiting over 320,000 people. Chen Zhi and Prince Group have donated US$3,000,000 to Prime Minister Hun Sen in early December to help Cambodia buy 1 million COVID-19 vaccines.
The Prince Horology Vocational Training Center is now accepting applications for the next academic year, which begins on June 2, 2021. Every year, the centre welcomes eight students, at least five of whom must be Cambodians. Please visit https://princehorology.com/ for more information.