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Blue-collar bonanza

The economic environment of the country demands that its educational system gear towards producing a better-prepared work force.

One need not be told, it is there unfolding right in front of our eyes, the country’s changing economic reality that promises job opportunities a plenty and good salaries for vocational graduates.

It is just that students, their minds drummed in by their parents, see vocational jobs as not such a viable career option.

Blinkered as we are, Bhutanese families continue to see academic qualifications as, perhaps, the only viable career path, and there is no denying that.  White-collar jobs still are better than blue-collar ones.

The latter is not regarded highly by Bhutanese society, as is quite common among Asian societies, and the so-called dignity of labour has yet to find some footing.

Honestly, the very people, who espouse and endorse blue-collar jobs over the white, will be last to have their own children follow that career line.

The notion that plagues the minds of many Bhutanese parents is that only people, who are academically poor, pursue vocational jobs.

We go to an automobile workshop, wait for several days, weeks and sometimes months for its repair, and complain of the dearth of mechanics, and marvel at the money they make at the end of the work.

The smallest plumbing work, or fixing the wires of a plug, or mending a small broken part of a floor tile and we have difficulty finding people to do the job.  When we do find them, we realise how good some of them have it, in demand, charging steep fees, sometimes double the amount during weekends, knowing that fact.

Despite experiencing these on a daily basis, we still have this aversion to pursue, or allow our children to pursue, a career as a mechanic or a plumber or an electrician.

The country continues to grapple with an over supply of university graduates, who are scouring for jobs.

Anything to do with technical aspect and they are incompetent, and physical work is the last thing on their minds, for they are too demeaning for the qualifications they carry.

It is time that we think again.

For the next few decades, as the country’s many hydropower projects begin taking off, one of the most valued skills and high-paying jobs, which it already is as proven by the ongoing power projects, the future is for those with technical and vocational backgrounds.

This calls for rejigging of school curriculum and the human resource ministry’s consideration to incorporate vocational education in schools is a good beginning perhaps.

It also calls for parents, students and the education system to recognise the need for better career preparation.

Opportunities abound, what to make of them is in the hands of individuals.

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