Roping in enough applicants especially classes X and XII pass-outs for in-country training programs is always a herculean task for the labor ministry.
In-country training programs provided by the ministry almost all the time remain under capacity. “Tourism, hospitality and the construction sectors are the priority sectors where employment opportunities are high,” said Program Officer Deki Wangmo.
Seven training programs, namely construction skill training, culinary arts and commercial cooking, bakery and confectionary, beauty and hair care, Infosys, front desk management and heavy machine operator training have been lined up for the last few months but the ministry is still waiting for keen applicants.
According to the Chief Program officer, Karma, the ministry keeping in mind the recent market demands and employment potential, initiated the construction sector training.
“But youth are not interested in construction works like masonry, carpentry, welding and many others,” said Karma, “Although the capacity is around 280 yet there is only 100 to 120 youth joining.”
The ministry has been doing its best to advertise the training slots through various modes of advertisement including print and broadcast media like Kuzoo Fm which is popular among the youth.
“The normal budget allocated for advertisement is around Nu 0.3 mn,” said Karma, “But for the same course we land up advertising again and again”. Thus, the cost of advertising has escalated.
Hydropower workforce requirement has worked out to as high as 37,000 skilled workers. But youth are still reluctant to take up what they deem “blue-collared” jobs.
For instance, the labor ministry has signed a memorandum with hydropower companies like Larsen and Toubro, Gammon, Jai Prakash Associates limited and Hindustan Construction Company and each Indian Company will recruit 300- 250 trainees annually but a dearth could be seen in the number of applicants.
Larsen and Toubro Company (LNT) required a minimum of 40-70 trainees. During the first announcement around 300 students registered for the training course, but only 60 to 50 students turned up during the interview and when selection interviews were over numbers fiddled down to around 20.
“Actual registration crossed over 1,500, which shows that youth are looking for trainings and job opportunities, “said the Chief Program officer.
A labor ministry official said that unemployment is a major problem and to give a job to every individual is a challenge. Thus, the ministry is at least trying to upgrade their skills.
The heavy machine operator training in Gammon Company attracted only 15 applicants though the required number was 25. At the moment, only four trainees are working under the company.
The Bhutanese talked to some trainees who withdrew from the course and the common complaint they had was that a manager from the project said that they did not have a proper training center and could not recruit trainees blindly since the machines were worth Nu 40 mn.
“We had to do on the job training; we were supposed to work in a tunnel and since we lacked experience it was risky,” said Tashi, an ex-trainee.
Further, the stipend of Nu 1,500 was too less for them, they said.
“Youth think careers in the construction sector are for the illiterate,” said the Chief Planning Officer adding that the students who are just out in the job market see a complete work transition in these sectors and they are not ready to take up the profession or they don’t have enough information on the slots.
But the Director of Human Resources, Sonam Rinchen, said that continuous counseling is being provided in the employment service center and guide books have been published particularly for job seekers.
Similarly, trainings for tourism and hospitality sector too have meager applicants.
For bakery and confectionary course, “despite advertising in all kinds of print and broadcast media, announcing in the ministry’s website, sending repeated sms, and calling people up individually, we are still running short of 16 trainees, the required number being 20,” said Deki Wangmo.
In a worst case scenario, culinary arts and commercial cooking got only nine applicants though there were 40 slots.
The ministry even lowered the entry qualification for hospitality training programs from grade X to grade VIII. “Despite this, there is no difference in the number of applicants,” she said.
Front desk management, under hospitality training program reduced its qualification requirement from grade XII to grade VIII but even after aggressive advertisement they are running short of applicants.
Deki Wangmo said that compared to in-country training programs, jobseekers prefer to go for ex-country training.
“Our responsibility is to upgrade their skills and knowledge, not to provide them jobs,” said the Chief Planning Officer.