Pawan Sharda: Nepal needs more technical expertise

- Sirzu Bajracharya, Kathmandu

Jun 9, 2019-

Sharda Group of Industries, currently employs more than 3,500 employees.  Pawan Sharda, managing director of the group and president of Morang Merchant Association, says he wants to increase this number, by creating employment opportunities for 10,000 people and contributing to Nepal’s economy. More than 140 years since its inception, Sharda Group has been involved in manufacturing and trading a wide range of industrial goods and durables—Goodlife Digestive and Bourbon biscuits, Preeti noodles, and Shivam cement among others. In this interview with the Post’s Srizu Bajracharya, Sharda shares his corporate sector insights, especially regarding employment opportunities. Excerpts:

What do you think is the current situation for skilled workers in Nepal?

We need people with a variety of skills to run a business. But in order to sustain our business, what we are currently lacking is people with sound technical knowledge in their area of expertise. In my experience, there is a dearth of technical expertise in Nepal.

Many times, we have hired foreigners as Nepali candidates couldn’t fulfill our criteria.  There is a distinct quality gap in technical professionals that we need in our industries.

  2.  So, is it difficult to meet the demand for skilled professionals in the corporate sector? What is the supply like?

Every sector has a certain set of criteria while looking for suitable employees. In the corporate sector, according to my experience, the ultimate challenge is to retain experienced and capable employees. The majority of youth in Nepal aspire to work abroad and this is the biggest challenge for all employers.

For years, Sharda Group has invested in training our employees. But it's still hard to retain employees--once they learn necessary skills, they look for better opportunities. As there aren’t many skilled within the potential workforce, there is a high demand of skilled employees.

Although it is a disadvantage to an employer, as we cannot envision having an employee for the long term, this is actually good for the skilled people and for the industry in the long term. Wherever they go, they will be utilising their acquired skills within the sector.

3. In your experience, what makes a good employee?

I think first and foremost, it is loyalty followed closely by discipline and hard-work. We need people who can take ownership of their work.

I have seen many employees, who are at work but are always distracted. Many people do not understand how their inefficiencies can trickle down to serious pushback for the whole business. Nowadays, I see people are constantly using their phones so they have little concentration even during working hours.

Having said that, there are also people who understand their work and are willing to work hard. I am also aware that, as an employer, it's essential to reflect on how we can enhance employees’ efficiency and gain their loyalty.

4. What is the most important part of the hiring process--the CV, the recommendations or the interview?

All three are very important, but I value face-to-face interviews because I believe it gives you a better opportunity to evaluate a candidate. The study of their body language, level of preparation and spontaneity is essential in the hiring process.

However, as times are changing, I believe we also need more online platforms where candidates can share their skills and experience. As we generally employ people from all around Nepal, online interviews have also come in handy. It saves time and, at the same time, allows us to understand their point of view.

5. How much is a candidate's work-experience important into the hiring process?

As employees with prior work experience need little guidance, most employers prefer experienced ones. With fresh graduates, we have to teach them from scratch and we do not get their commitment to stay for the long term either.

However, I believe, it's good to have a mix of both--some bring experience while others are open to exploring new working methods.

Sometimes senior employees get rigid in their approach to work, but at the same time their experience and expertise also guarantee performance. But in other cases, we also need to revise and reinvent our ways, and it is easier to work with new people as they are willing to take risks.

6. What do you think is lacking in new candidates that you've seen while hiring?

In recent years, I have seen that most candidates are looking for benefits but aren’t ready to work hard. They do not evaluate their contribution to the company or how it can benefit their long-term career goals. They are quick to weigh jobs according to the short-term benefits they receive.

7. What advice do you have for young people who want to join a company like Sharda group?

Sharda Group has employees who have worked with us for more than 40 years. And we consider people who have joined our company as our family. We want people to learn and grow with the company. Therefore, we want employees to think of us as a family and work together with us.

8. What is the state of women's participation in your company?

About 30 percent of employees working in Sharda Group are female. And I think we saw this change more distinctly in the past decade. Their work has definitely impacted our businesses, and I would say that they are more disciplined and loyal than our male employees.

Most of the men in the rural areas choose foreign employment, which makes female participation even more evident. Their energy certainly has influenced the company. With changing social perceptions, I believe in the near future, we will have more female employees.

9. More than 60 percent of the population are youth. But unemployment is one of the big problems in the country. How do you think we can solve this issue?

In recent years, we have certainly noticed the number of young people seeking employment has decreased. I think it is also because of the trend of studying and working abroad.

One of the ways to curb this situation is by focusing on domestic production. This will create more job opportunities in Nepal, that will attract more of the younger population to stay in Nepal, rather than aspiring to foreign employment.


Published: 10-06-2019 07:00

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