Their only gripe against the MoL-organised technical/vocational training held in the east 

Blue Collar: The two-week-long technical and vocational education camp the labour ministry organised in Trashigang, students felt, was too short.  The camp was a success for students, who are on their winter break, but they felt they could have learnt more had the camp been a little longer.

This is because some of the participants, awaiting their class X examination results, are preparing for options.  And with a taste of the technical education, they feel it is not too bad.

Daju Rigpa, a participant, says he cannot continue his studies if he fails to qualify for government school.  The student of Nangkhor feels vocational training would land him a job faster. “I’ve learnt quite a bit in 12 days,” says Daju, 19, working on a welding machine during the last few days. “Should I fail to qualify for a government school, I’m certainly going to join one of the TTIs to build a secure career.”

The 95 students from the six eastern dzongkhags were given practical lessons in electrical, carpentry, masonry, plumbing, computer hardware, automobile, welding, embroidery and lhadri (painting).

The camp is expected to provide students with a better understanding of the TVET life, in terms of living on campus, what the training entails and visits to the work sites.  Through this, students will have a broader perspective to TVET and can make a more informed choice of career once they leave the school system.

Director of the department of human resource with the labour ministry, Kinley Wangdi, said the department, through their past programmes, realised the need for a very strong advocacy on TVET by directly interacting with the youth.

“Rather than going from paper to paper or through television talk shows, we decided on organising a camp, where we can come face to face with the youth and talk the issues related to them directly,” he said.

The camp was also organised to improve the image of TVET, at a time when students are after white-collar jobs, and tend to look down on vocational skills, which is in short supply in the country.  In order to deal with the societal stigma attached with TVET, the director said that they wanted to sensitise society on its importance and the need for support from the community.

He added that people needed to be informed that pursuing TVET doesn’t mean a dead end to an individual’s career, which was the case in the past.  In the past, he said, there was a huge stagnation period in professions like carpentry and plumbing, among others.

“Today, in the TVET system, there is a new reform, which allows people to move from the lowest to the highest level through the Bhutan Vocational Qualification Framework (BVQF),” he said. “There are a lot of ways to go ahead with one’s career, but it all depends on their capability, willingness and interest.”

Department of Human Resource (DHR) had asked schools to nominate students, who are academically weak and from humble backgrounds. “Through our long years of interaction with young children, we found the need to smoothen their transition from their school life to the real world of work. We need to look at the weaknesses and make it their strength,” the director said.

DHR also oriented students on the available skills programmes, employment opportunities, labour laws and regulations, BVQF and lifelong learning.  Guest speakers from private sectors also communicated with the students.

The TVET camp started on January 18 and concluded on January 31.

By Tshering Wangdi,  Trashigang