Unemployment down to 2.1 percent

The Economic and Private Sector Development (EPSD) Committee comprising of  seven committee members categorized the National Employment Situation report into four parts; national employment situation, youth engagement and job plan 2016-17, youth engagement and job plan 2017-18, challenges and the recommendations from the findings of the Committee.

The findings on the national employment situation in the country based on the Draft Labour Force Survey Report 2016 showed that general unemployment rate has decreased from 2.5 % (8660) in 2015 to 2.1 % (7521) in 2016 but the youth unemployment has increased from 10.7 percent to 13.2 percent. Gender wise, the female youth unemployment saw a decreased from 12.7 percent in 2015 to 11.0 percent in 2016 while the male unemployment saw almost an increase by 100 percent from 8.2% in 2015 to 16.4% in 2016.

The ESPD Committee presented the report on Thursday during the ongoing 10th session of the second parliament with the main objective to present current situation of national employment and provide recommendations on the possible ways to bridge the lapses.

The youth engagement and job plan 2016-17, was implemented from January 2017 with a supplementary budget of Nu.262.808 mn with the target to engage 5,780 youths under the programs such as Direct Employment Scheme, Overseas Employment Scheme, Entrepreneurship and Self Employment Program and Agency for the Promotion of Indigenous Crafts.

Out of the target to engage 5780 youths with qualifications ranging from university graduates, class X and XII passed outs, 3,593 youths have been employed through various programs. The report graded the Ministry’s achievement as 62 percent for the job plan 2016-17, however the Labour Minister expressed that it is unfair and early to come to such conclusion before the end of the FY 2017.

The Labour Ministry also pointed out that the government has enough funds to engage youths in different programs and provide employment opportunities provided they come forward. “We had set the target of 87 youths to engage them in the program for Agency for the Promotion of Indigenous Crafts but none of the youths availed the program, so we had to give back the preset budget without even utilizing it. Like Lyonchhen already urged, I also would like to request every unemployed youths to register yourself with the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources so that we can help you in return,” said the Labour Minister.

For the implementation of Job Plan 2017-18, the MoLHR has been approved a budget of Nu.303.36 mn for the projected 7,101 jobseekers to engage in the different programs by the Ministry which excludes the 12,262 youths who are expected to be employed in various other sectors.

It has been projected in the 11th FYP that around 18,000-19,000 jobseekers are expected to come into the Labour market annually.

The Deputy Chairperson of the Committee, Rinzin Dorji from Shompangkha Constituency who presented the report to the house said, “The report is being presented in keeping with Section 310 of the rules of procedures of the National Assembly 2014 and the Terms of Reference of EPSD committee specifically mandates and empowers the Committee to conduct review of labour and employment policies, legislations and related issues.”

The Committee reported that Overseas Employment Program (OEP) to India is competitive with low wages and the youths sent to India are mostly under fully supported program of the Ministry of Labor and Human Resources.

And in the case of youths being sent to the Middle East under the OEP, the Deputy Chairman presented that the salary is not attractive with unfavorable working conditions and the working environment posing risk of abuse.

The Committee found that except for BDBL, RICBL, and T-Bank, other banks are very reluctant to disburse loans to the youths under the overseas education loan scheme which might obstruct several opportunities for the youths. The committee recommended that the Ministry should find ways to encourage all the financial institutions to come forward and grant loans under the scheme.

The other recommendation was on the need to support private sector development as there are huge potential for employment generation under the sector.

The third recommendation from the committee was on the need to focus on readying the youth by providing the required skills through career oriented vocational skills training and education.

It was also recommended that self-employment should be encouraged by creating favorable environment for entrepreneurship and the last recommendation was on the need to support tuition fees for language courses which is required for the youths to undergo before leaving for some of the Overseas Employment opportunities.

Although some of the members raised the issue of limitations of the findings considering that the observations were based on the Draft Labour Force Survey Report 2016 and on the need for proper specifications in the figures, the house none the less endorsed all the five recommendations submitted by the Committee through a majority vote.

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