I am spending three days in Marikina this week for the 35th National Convention of the Philippine Society for Training and Development (PSTD). This is my first time to attend the PSTD convention, and also my first time to be back in Marikina City after a long, long time.
PSTD is the country’s widest and oldest professional association of corporate trainers. It started in 1965 and has until now, provide venue for exchange of styles and best practices in training among its members. It has also hosted several international gatherings of training and development professionals through the Asia Pacific Regional Training and Development Organization (now commonly known as ARTDO International). Coincidentally, PSTD is currently preparing for yet another hosting job for the 2012 ARTDO Conference in Manila.
The 35th Convention
This year’s convention revolves around the theme, “Building Capacities for Global Competitiveness”. This is consistent with the PSTD’s vision of making the Philippines a training hub of Asia. As to what it means in a specific and measurable terms, I still do not know.
Expectedly, the lady mayor of Marikina City, Marides Fernando, graced the occasion as its keynote speaker. It was my first time to listen to the mayor and I must say that I was impressed by her short and direct message to the convention participants. It was devoid of the usual gobbledygook from bureaucrats and politicians. She talked about quality and how should work be quantified and measured against set standards. She talked about veering away from the pandesal mentality, or the zagu phenomenon as it is also called, where people go into the same business as their neighbour because the neighbour is successful in it. The other neighbours follow suit, thus creating a saturated market. We see this phenomenon everywhere in the Philippines, from sari sari stores, carinderia, car wash, water station, and even laundry service.
The good mayor said that the government needs to limit competition in such instances, to allow business players to survive and so as not to saturate the market. People must be trained to be creative, as a true entrepreneur should be.
It made sense. Government must really come in to avoid market failure brought by, in this case, market saturation. There should be a zoning of enterprises to allow competition to prosper without risking the life savings of other people. Sometimes, business owners would resort to corrupt practices like not paying correct taxes or selling sub-standard goods or paying low wages to its employees only to be able to maintain its lowest price position in the market, to the detriment of legitimate business owners.
Speaking of corruption, Mayor Fernando shared to us a line from Lee Kuan Yew which she claimed has come from the horse’s mouth during her audience with the latter: whenever there is a queue, there is corruption.
The point being is automation of government transactions and minimizing face to face contact with government employees, especially those that are prone to negotiations. You know what I mean.
As to what training can do to achieve this? A lot. It is about changing a mindset and building capacities to understand and embrace the change. It is finding one’s niche and making a reputation on it. Employee development mechanisms must also teach employees on how to train their sights to an area of expertise where they can specialize- finding their own Blue Ocean, so to speak. Trainers must also do the same.