Have you ever wondered why the bible in Ecclesiastes 9:10 says ’’whatever you hand finds to do, do it with all diligence, why is diligence so pronounced? Similarly, Proverbs 22:29 says “observe people who are good at their work, skilled workers are always in demand and admired; they don’t take a backseat to anyone” While we ponder on that question, let me quickly share a story of what transpired in our workshop during the vacation.
We run a fridge and air conditioner (AC) repairing workshop and a customer required we fix the top of his fridge that got spoilt. By the nature of the work we decided to contract a carpenter to do it as the top was made of saw-dust. On consulting the first carpenter, he charged 10,000 naira and 3,000 naira for materials and labor cost respectively. We further consulted another carpenter who sincerely charged 5000 naira and 3,000 naira for materials and labor cost respectively. Given the second carpenter’s sheer sincerity, of course unlike most artisans or craftsmen, we gave him the job.
Praise worthily, he timely delivered the work with the top looking attractively anew. In fact our joy knew no bound as he returned it. But on a re-check, this very sincere carpenter had on the process of doing his own work caused a damage to the fridge internally. In fact, one of a greater economic cost to us. In all his integrity, he had leaked-out the gas in the fridge while fixing the top. To fix a problem of 8,000 naira, He created that of 25,000 naira. Economists call this a COBRA EFFECT- a situation where a prescribed solution to a particularly problem evolves into a greater problem itself.
This literally brought questions in my heart as to how proficient and competent I have grown in my area of specialization, how much solutions am I proffering or hope to proffer or am I really part of the world’s problem?
Talking about skilled workers being in demand, It’s no news that in this same ‘’work-no-dey- country of ours’’, some people keep changing jobs like wears. That’s exactly what proficiency and competence can bring the ways of the prepared competent man or woman as the case may be.
Many of us students have false paradigms as Stephen R Covey would call it. Our mindsets and worldviews have been fragmented as it relates to diligence and gaining competence in our course of study. This is evident in the “School nah SCAM” outlook to studies, the lackadaisical attitude to academics and hard work. While I agree that our nation is far from the ideal economy and context. The truth remains that competence and skillfulness pays- sooner or later.
Despite all these fragmented views about our world, we must essentially understand that the future belongs to us- the youth ultimately. Yes, we are the next Adam smith, Maynard Keynes, Charles Soludo, Ngozi Okonji Iweala and any other admirable Economist(s) you can conceive. Generally speaking, we are the thinkers, Innovators and solution providers of the future. Sooner or later this will inescapably dawn on us and we shall be tasked with solving the problems of our needy world.
Just in a moment , can you close your eyes and open your mind to imagine yourself in a corporate world as the CEO of your most admired firm say Google, Amazon, Tesla etc , as Governor of CBN or as the Executive Director of one transnational organization. What a pure bliss it was, right? But what exact solutions, value and transformations can you proffer to such organization, or should we wait until you reach the bridge? Well, if we have to wait until you reach the bridge before you articulate your thoughts, this article is primarily for you. It is overdue and you must imbue yourself with competencies to be able to deliver when the need arises. A the popular quote has it ‘’When opportunity avails, it is too late to prepare’’. We must be ready at every point in time to make most of every availed opportunity and growing our competencies is one way of preparing for opportunities.
Competencies are critical for equipping students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that they will need to successfully navigate their personal journeys in learning, living and working. On a generic note, let us look at the some core competencies a student should be grounded on. They include the following;
* Problem solving
* Personal growth and wellbeing
*Cultural and global citizenship etc.
According to Klaus Shwab, the executive chairman of World Economic Forum “we are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution and knowledge is no longer the sole commodity needed for success”. Rather, the next generation of leaders must be able to form valuable connections with those around them, build their problem solving skills and adaptability skills in order to create solutions and drive innovations forward. We must desire to learn and want to be ahead of the game, be able to manage failure and up ourselves when things don’t go according to plan. We must also be able to support our friends, families and course mates and devise proactive ideas to better the world we live in.
One fundamental way of building your soft skills as it relates to the aforementioned competencies is by joining a student group especially those that promote these competencies. For example, in the Department of Economics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, there exist student groups such as National Fellowship Of Christian Economics Students (NAFECS), Policy Analysis and Research Group (PARG) and then ECOPRESS. These student groups help students to build their research, presentation, collaboration, and teamwork and communication skills. By leveraging on these platforms you will sure build non-classroom skills that will help you to emerge a success in your future endeavor.
Beyond integrity pursue competence in your area of discipline, learn data analytical skill, creative writing, web development and graphic designing etc .The department won’t teach you these but you need them to be successful in our 21st century world.
See you at the top, friend while we balsam the world!
By Sunday Nto (Balsam)