Protecting the Skies - Ugyen Phuntsho
“Before I moved to study in Perth, Australia in January 2019, I worked as a Marketing Manager at a private company in Phuntsholing. As I studied, I started taking small jobs to pay the bills. Simultaneously, I underwent training as a security officer. Upon completing my studies, I worked as a Crowd Control & Security Officer at an entertainment/gambling centre. Having gained valuable market experience, I moved on to work as an “Aviation Protection Officer” at an airport – the work I continue to this day.
There is a general thinking among Bhutanese that those who come to Australia come to work as cleaners and janitors. This may be true for some for which I respect them for what they do because they value dignity of labour.
Such thinking back home emanates from cleaning jobs that are easy to get. It is observed that one does such jobs as a student when one doesn’t have local work experience.
During my stay here, I have come across many Bhutanese working in officer positions. As I learnt and experienced first hand, this group of people took risks and invested in getting themselves trained by taking certificate courses. As a security officer at the airport, my work involves scanning people and things for contraband and security.
Having to stay away from home, I miss my parents. The pandemic has further restricted travel. That said, there are reasons to be positive about working here. Irrespective of the job they do, people here are proud of what they do – a respect for the dignity of labour. Back home, it is quite different. There are stereotypes and stigmatisation against such a job which I believe stems from lack of dignity of labour, among others.
I am acutely aware that changing mindset, that too in relation to the work you do would take time. As many Bhutanese come here and return, I am cautiously optimistic that stories such as mine might help instil values such as the dignity of labour back home. Similarly, I am hopeful that similar stories can motivate people to invest in themselves in getting trained which later helps in securing stable jobs.”