The skilled 8.5k

Under the economics reform agenda, it was decided that 8500 people will be trained in various areas of study in work related fields to combat widespread unemployment among young people. According to the plan there will be 56 areas of study for study which will certify the participants in 1 to 6 month duration courses some of which will be accredited internationally.

According to latest statistics of HRM, there are 2000 vacancies in construction industry, >3000 vacancies in tourism industry, 700 vacancies in transport industry and 800 vacancies in fisheries industry.

Out of 205033 locals eligible for work, 38602 are out of work whilst another 73840 expatriates works in different sectors throughout the country.

In theory this is alright, jobs are there lying vacant unmatched to prospective job-seekers. Job seekers also would have to be helped to become skilled if they are not. But the real problem that 30% of people eligible to work who remain unemployed is because of unrealistically low wages. Consider the picture below.

The picture is a typical job ad by a top local business brand which clearly is seen offering an unreasonably low pay for a demanding job. As for skills required, fiber optic networking could not be attempted without skills. Yet a lousy 3k per month is offered for full time employment which actually means, the employer is not interested in hiring locals. A local simply cannot survive on that kind of pay in Male’ island if he does not live in a hole or a cave or needs to eat and drink water even if occasionally!
Job ads like these are clearly designed to exclude locals from work and is all the more reason why we shall have a basic minimum wage and other protective measures like work visa quotas. Ideally a country would be left better off not having to legislate on issues like this, but if employers do not take the social responsibility then they shall be prompted to. Its also worth noting that the worst offenders when it comes to dodging social responsibility are the local employers who still have pre-slave era beliefs about the worker class.

What’s next to go out from your laptop?

It must be the CD-ROM. Already there are many laptops without the CD-ROM which are much cheaper  and the numbers are growing of their sales. Having a CD-ROM in laptop is becoming what it was  like to have a floppy drive in the laptop about 5 years ago. Its simply becoming irrelevant. This is a growing trend in places where internet speeds are faster as people can store vast amounts of data in their own private web-clouds. Maybe the only reason why CD-ROM is still “in” most laptops is because of Microsoft which likes to sell their Windows software CD packaged in a big box because of the ridiculously high price. Since the majority of humanity still uses Microsoft’s Windows to run their computers, Microsoft certainly has a say in the evolution of computers. However with the globe becoming ever more wired with data rates growing faster, the days of installing, booting or running computer from CD-ROM is getting closer to end. The other major factor keeping the CD-ROM still alive is the film industry which is also now moving to on-line, on-demand streaming type of media which will ease the dependence on requirement for CD-ROM. Practically speaking, a computer  be it a table-top, laptop, or a desktop is better off without a CD-ROM as it consists of moving parts which are prone to mechanical wear and tear which is one reason of the growing popularity solid-state devices. Also what a CD-ROM is capable of storing on CD is diminishing compared to what solid state memory devices can with cheaper price tags. Just as the record industry (voice) migrated to mp3 format from cassettes, so are the days of movies on cds numbered.

Internet is a basic human right.

While the majority of the world’s population now believes (4 of 5 according to a bbc report) that Internet access shall be a human right and be regarded such as basic infrastructure like roads, electricity and water, here in Maldives we are still in the dark ages of information technology. Majority of our Internet services are provided by Dhiraagu which is still believed to be the world’s worst telephone company. This is despite the fact that here in Maldives we can try every new telecommunications technology thanks to lack of big legacy systems which would have to suffer come any new technologies. Other big countries already with legacy infrastructure might have to worry about costs of revamping up to the new systems but here we are ‘a free new country’ open to all options.

The long lists of things we don’t have here is indeed long and in top of the list there will be:

1st; consumer protection.
2nd; choice.
3rd; recourse to judicial proceedings
4th; fair price

And there are very good reasons why we do not seem to have them too.

1. there is no consumer protection because there are no laws for it. Its not peculiar to telecom customers and we have more pressing issues like lack of laws for money laundering, dealing with counterfeit currency etc. Even now police have in custody a currency counterfeit suspect who will be released the moment he will be presented to court! Its understood that police and PG are in talks to frame the criminal in a ‘bindable’ case so as to let the justice prevail.

2. choice: There was no choice till Wataniyya came and it came too late and too slow. Prior to Wataniyya there were the dreaded price sheets we (older batches of resort receptionists will remember this) would rather hide than show to guests for fear of open revolt simply because the rates were beyond reason! The rates were international calling rates from Dhiraagu and the rates were simply preposterous. Like 10$ per one minute etc..

3rd; recourse to judicial proceedings: This is very tricky issue as our courts are very selective in the proceedings and anything can be expected. We do not blame the courts and its all down to law makers to make suitable laws, the police to submit suitable evidence, and arrangements for witness protection programs etc in case witnesses were subjected to threats and intimidation..

4th; fair price… This is not common or understood terminology in Dhiragu it seems. Ask any Sri Lankan or Indian about the prices they pay in their respective countries for the same services they get here and be mildly surprised. eg; Even for their latest gadget, the wireless modem is hopelessly overcharged cos its still limited. 2500rf first plus 250rf each month is still way too expensive for a limited Internet package which can be used only for reading news headlines or email headers..

Mobile internet for resort people.

The days when resorts switchboard’s were overloaded with calls to staff from loved ones back at home were thankfully over, thanks to the coming of mobile phones. Back then, the most telephone traffic received in a resort would be the hr department from where the hr person will route calls to the staff wherever he or she might be. Its also not uncommon for the calls to spill over to front office desk and GRO desk once the operator is not able to handle several calls at once and the waiting queue becomes long.

History seems to be quite close to repeating itself once again with Internet which at present is given as a favor to staff in a few resorts. In most resorts still, broadband and wireless Internet is a novelty and reserved for the all mighty management and grudgingly sold to guests at bloated prices per minute etc. The cost of using Internet to guest maybe as high as 5$s per minute while the same data stream would be used inside the ‘back office’ by the ‘management staff’ to download movies for free of course!

Of the two parties given permission to operate telephone networks in Maldives Dhiraagu is the giant ugly monopoly the past government has manged to create which is slow, inefficient, expensive, customer UNFRIENDLY but the necessary devil most of us out of necessity have to deal with on a daily basis. Wataniyya on the other hand seems to have the right qualifications for all the positive adjectives but wataniyya’s slow and timid approach to providing a reliable alternative to Dhiraagu deserves no praise at all.

The latest offer from both companies to provide mobile internet is listed below.
Dhiraagu is marketing the one laari-one-kilo-byte gadget quite aggressively to mislead normal human beings to buy their gadget which is a more expensive plan than what Wataniyya is selling. But the problem is once a person buys one of these things (modem) for 1200rf it would be very difficult to convince him to buy another one Wataniyya is selling for 2000rf even if it would be cheaper to use on a monthly basis. This is where Wataniyya can rightly be said to be behaving like a timid child. Dhiraagu knows this is a grownup’s business and is going about it ruthlessly marketing an expensive and unreliable gadget taking advantage of people’s ignorance on the difference of what a kilo byte and megabyte can mean per laari.

Wataniyya is selling two packages one for occasional users and one for frequent users, the few things wrong about Wataniyya’s product is that the modem is expensive, that a deposit has to be given and that Wataniyya is not marketing the product enough.