Good afternoon young friends:
It is so nice to be here this afternoon in this beautiful campus of Technical Training Institute (TTI), Dekiling, talking to you, the young Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) participants. Let us be very informal and exchange views: feel free to ask me any questions, relating to my presentation or otherwise, any time during the deliberations.
Let me briefly introduce myself. My name is Sangpa Tamang and I run my private business in Gelephu. I finished my college education in civil engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, the prestigious institution now popularly referred as college from where Sunder Pichai (Chief Executive Officer of Google) graduated. After graduation I worked in Public Works Department (PWD) for 17 years. In 1990 I got a job offer from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and worked there 20 years. I have worked in most of the Asian countries including 5 years in China.
I thank the organizers for inviting me to guest lecture TVET participants today. All of you are young and you have your beautiful life in front of you. I will try to be as simple as possible so that you can understand whatever I am trying to tell you today. I am not used to lecturing school students. I want you to carry with you THREE simple thoughts that may help you succeed in life. If you did not understand ask me follow-on questions.
FIRST, purse your dreams in the areas of your interest. Think hard, make your brain work and find what interest you the most. I am not talking here about casual interest. I am talking about field or area which you are very passionate and day-dream about. It can be anything but your thoughts should mostly revolve around it all the time and you can keep your focus on it no matter what externalities you face in life.
By now I have interviewed around 40 young candidates. The first question I ask is, “what is your aim in life or what do you want to become in life.” I have yet to receive very captivating answer. Most of the answers were ”it is up to you, sir.” I feel sad to hear such answer. The mind is blurred, and probably the brain has never been put to hard work. What else can I say?
And, What can I say when I see young people sitting on road culvert at 5:30 in cold winter morning without even realizing where they are and what they are doing there? I can only say they are ruining their lives even before taking some shape. You tell me what kind of an impression I should carry with me about today’s youth when I see these in front my eyes. I am not trying to project unnecessary bad image of your seniors. You may go and ask any private business person what they think of today’s youth in terms of their mental agility, intellectual sharpness, and work interest and productivity.
I am sorry to say that the private sector impression about the youths is not positive. You have a big responsibility to change that impression. You have to come out with the razor-sharp brain and put us, the private entrepreneurs, on the edge. We will love that. We will be proud of you. And for this you have to be the best in your field. We want the best, not average, not mediocre. To be the best you must work hard in the area that interest you the most. There is no shortcut to hard work.
When we are born everyone has same brain. If you make it work, your brain becomes sharp and if not it becomes dull. You make it work and think hard about your field of interest. There is no small or big job. Success largely depends on the level of your interest, passion and commitment to the profession. Even best of the colleges in the world cannot go against your passion and interest. So pursue your dream in the area that interests you most.
SECOND, having made yourself sure about the area of your interest value add to your knowledge and capability. You may not understand what value addition is at this stage. I want to explain you with an example. You must have open and fertile brain to add value.
Let us take an example of a manual worker who works day and night carrying bricks, stones, sand and doing other physical works. An open minded worker while carrying bricks, cement, sand will see how the mason is working. In few months he starts to lay bricks and make a simple wall, and in a year or so he will learn how to plaster the walls. With his enthusiasm and interest in the work the person will learn in few years more delicate works of laying tiles and marbles on floor. In 10 years or so he may become a civil works contractor with his thorough knowledge on the job. This is how you go on adding value to your profession.
For you, the participants, attending this TVET program is also an opportunity for adding value to your knowledge base. You will have so many opportunities to add value but you cannot go on a haphazard fashion in the name of value addition. You must add value in the area of your interest so that you become the best person in the field. You are then confident to compete in open market of not only Bhutan but outside as well.
THIRD, respect and value knowledge because those who do not respect knowledge cannot gain knowledge. There is no harm in saying you do not know, no matter how simple a matter may be. How can a person know everything? If the other person knows more than you, respect the person’s knowledge. This will keep your mind in positive frame and you become receptive to more knowledge inputs.
I want to tell you a story about valuing knowledge. There was a huge industrial enterprise having machineries worth millions of dollars. An old technician was in-charge of running and maintenance of the machineries. Old man retired. New technician was recruited. After a while one of their machineries broke down. The new technician could repair it. Even after hiring mechanical engineers, the problem could not rectified.
So they called retired technician to come and take a look if he could repair it. He came and inspected and marked “X” on particular part of machinery with a chalk. A component of the machinery where he had marked “X” was replaced and it started running. The old man was asked about his fee for his service. He said it was $50,000. People were shocked. Just for marking “X” with the chalk he was charging $50,000. He was asked to give detail breakdown. He put his billing as: (i) Chalk = $1 and (ii) Knowing where to put “X” = $49,999. This is knowledge and its value. Without the chalk mark, the multimillion dollar machinery would have been lying idle.
So, remember the THREE points I told you today. These will help you succeed in life. Do not waste your time and life. These are too precious to be wasted casually. The skills gap right now between skills required by private sector and those that graduates have acquired is huge. I sincerely hope that the program like TVET will bring awareness in closing the skills gap. And you, all the TVET participants, will try your best in closing that gap. The jobs are there but only for those who can do the jobs!
At the end I want to leave you with following question that was asked in one of the job interviews. You think it over and over and try to find correct answer to it. If you cannot, do not worry about it. It is a simple but tough one.
There are three boxes, one contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box it labels. Opening just one box, and without looking in the box, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?
Now I am ready to answer your questions if you have any.
Q: Why did you decide to invest in workshop?
Ans: It is an auto center providing more comprehensive auto services. Our objective is to provide quality products and services and also show an example for other private sector investors to invest in service sector.
Q: How do you manage your work and family well?
Ans: My children are grown-up and independent. Our grandchildren are looked after by their parents on day-to-day basis. We only see that our grandchildren do not cross certain boundaries. So my family management is fairly simple. And, I do not consider my business as work. It is my interest.
Q: What kind of problem you face in your business?
Our problem mainly is relating to quality of manpower. We are not able to optimize our national vis-a-vis imported manpower mix for better productivity mainly because of the conservative non-national labour policy.
Q: How do you overcome labour dispute in your business?
Ans: In any organization if you make a conducive work environment then labour disputes are minimized. We try to see the interest of our workers and are working on our internal service rules in a fair manner. We are small with 26/27 workers and do not see any major labour disputes in future having made the working environment more conducive and secure.
Q: Tell us about the difference in your experiences of working in government, international organization and private.
Ans: In the government, there are responsibilities, powers and accountabilities. In my time we constructed Tsirang-Dagana road and also fixed alignment of Wandi-Tsirang road. We used to sleep in jungles for months to connect the road to Dagana on time so that first National Day in Dagana could be held. In international organization, you have to be above the rest in knowledge otherwise you cannot advise the governments on the subject matter. It is a very prestigious job. Everyone looks up to you for knowledge. You cannot let them down. In private I am down on ground. People call me jinda/ malik/uncle/achho/daju/sir. I have no problem whatsoever. Our customers range from taxi drivers to contractors to government organizations. We treat them all equally as our valued customers that matters us most.