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DataU Academy Equips Cambodian Youth With In-Demand Skills for the Global Data Revolution

Q&A with Sokhna Vor, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Data Science at DataU Academy
Jul 2020  · 7 min read

Tell us about DataU Academy and your partnership with DataCamp.

Founded in 2019, DataU Academy is Cambodia’s first skills training academy dedicated to data science, IT in data, and digital marketing. What makes our program unique is that over 30% of our curriculum is dedicated to soft skills training to ensure that our trainees are fully equipped for the workforce. We’re based in Phnom Penh and we work with leading organizations across Cambodia in telecommunications, banking, fintech, consumer goods, manufacturing, and many more to unlock the power of their data by recruiting, training, and deploying highly skilled graduates. DataCamp plays a key role in delivering hard data science skills and online content with on-demand learning.

DataCamp’s courses combine video with hands-on-coding practice to optimize student learning and retention of information. Because of the platform’s flexibility and digital resiliency, our students were able to adapt well and increase productivity even during Covid-19 lockdown. We’re able to easily track student progress and performance, and they prefer DataCamp’s learn-by-doing approach to video lectures.

As a result, within four to six months, our graduates are able to go from zero to little background in data to become professionals with in-demand skills. With DataCamp, Cambodian youth have the opportunity to develop world-class data skills, build a dream career, improve their standard of living, and engage in the global data revolution.

We enjoy being able to learn from a global instructor community, which is a good match for our vision. —Sokhna Vor

What are the biggest challenges and needs that you hope to address?

The Cambodian genocide in the late 1970s left a scar on our country. Today, our youth is striving to overcome our tragic history by actively learning in-demand skills and working vigorously to transform and grow our country. They are hard-working, hungry to learn, and resilient. Cambodian youths comprise two-thirds of our current population and the future of our nation depends on them.

With Cambodia’s largely untapped potential and relatively affordable cost of training compared with the Western world, we predict a shift in focus from low-skilled labor to innovative, high-income, and skill-based occupations. Since Cambodia has a predominantly manufacturing-led economy, automation and industrial process development will undoubtedly render many roles obsolete. The vast amount of data being generated by these changes will create huge opportunities and many new roles, for which data science and analytics skills will be critical.

It is with this foresight that we set up DataU—we’re committed to the growth of our nation. For over a year, we’ve worked tirelessly with both the public and private sectors to prepare for Industry 4.0 to establish Cambodia as a regional center of excellence for data science. In 10 years, we want Cambodia to be associated not only with Angkor Wat, but also with data science around the world. Cambodia can become a factory for digital and data skills, supplying the world with talent.

To achieve this vision, we’re building a world-class training program to help Cambodian youth combine technical and soft skills. Traditional in-person teaching overemphasizes lectures, adds operational overhead, and is not scalable enough for us at the speed with which we want to move.

What do you like about DataCamp?

DataU’s instruction combines in-person learning with online learning on DataCamp. Traditional in-person instruction provides limited course content and varies in standard across teachers. Moreover, it can be slow compared with fast-changing industry needs—we wanted our solution to be broader and more scalable. We found that MOOCs have great theoretical course content, but were taught in silos and our needs required a more holistic program, like DataCamp’s assessments and practice exercises.

We evaluated many learning platforms that were text-based and video-based, some with and some without in-platform coding, and some without practical exercises and projects. Our aim was to deliver content that maximizes students’ knowledge retention with a balanced mix of conceptual and practical mechanics. At the same time, we wanted something flexible and robust enough to combine instructor-led teaching and facilitation both online and offline.

In-platform coding exercises and practices along projects and skill assessment are also needed for our heavily vocational, industry-focused, and marketable skills training program. At DataU, we work closely with industry partners and clients to ensure that our graduates will have the skills and mindset to excel immediately in the workplace.

So far, we find DataCamp to be a productive, intuitive, and practical learning platform that offers a flexible and interactive learning experience. DataCamp has a large number of internationally trained instructors that provide high quality content. We enjoy being able to learn from a global instructor community, which is a good match for our vision. DataCamp supports our comprehensive training program and helps us produce fully fledged data scientists that have varied skill sets.

DataCamp supports our comprehensive training program and helps us produce fully fledged data scientists that have varied skill sets. —Sokhna Vor

What results have you seen since implementing DataCamp?

Our alpha cohort used the DataCamp platform over a period of six months and has recently graduated and transitioned into full-time roles. We adapted our learnings from our alpha cohort to roll out our second cohort of students. One hundred percent of our students are leveraging DataCamp’s world-class content, assessments, and in-platform coding exercises. Our in-house data scientists, instructors, program director, and management oversee students’ progress in-platform and manage their learning paths.

Our trainees come from a diversity of backgrounds—from computer science to English to accounting—and vary in industry experience. Over 65% of our trainees come from provincial areas and about 45% are female. Moreover, over 90% have passed our own calibrated quizzes and exams, and have demonstrated the ability to apply skills in experimental project settings.

With DataCamp, we are able to maximize our students’ learning and produce graduates that will reinvigorate Cambodia's economy with highly in-demand skills. Our goal is to become the world hub for data talent and to strengthen the global tech community.

What would you tell others who might be considering partnering with DataCamp?

The ease and flexibility of adopting DataCamp was key to helping our trainees obtain data skills. While English remains a challenge for some Cambodian youths, they’re able to absorb and retain knowledge by watching, re-watching, and practicing coding in the DataCamp platform. DataCamp also gives them an interactive user experience with their easy navigation of course materials.

We use blended learning to supplement online learning with an in-person learning environment that mimics the workplace. We’ve observed that our trainees often choose to use DataCamp Mobile at home to access concepts beforehand and review content on their own time. This provides great flexibility that has a positive impact on students’ outcomes.

Moreover, DataCamp provides a breadth of courses—from high-level fundamentals to technical data engineering and machine learning concepts. Their content goes deep and their courses on Python and R are constantly being updated.

If you belong to an organization that desires to reskill and upskill their workforce to boost organizational data fluency, we can definitely recommend DataCamp.

Find out more about DataU Academy and connect with Sokhna on LinkedIn. Sokhna is also a co-founder at Mekong Big Data.

Learn more about DataCamp's partnerships here. To become a partner, reach out to

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