The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) has registered 1,664 employees (594 females and 1,070 males) since the launch of Build Bhutan Project (BBP) on 1 July. Of the total number, 913 employees will be directly employed while 658 will be sent to TTIs for skilling.
As per the figures from the ministry, 365 employees who have registered are skilled (NC2 and NC3 level) workers in various fields with the highest seen in electrical and masonry with 98 employees each.
In addition, the ministry has registered 166 contractors from across the country with the demand of 4,078 employees needed at construction sites.
This is an ongoing process and they are yet to deploy employees in the field. The number may not be definite for now and some may withdraw in the process.
MoLHR Minister Ugyen Dorji said that the number turning out is quite satisfying since the demand far outstrips the supply of the workers.
“Over the past weeks, we have been facilitating the registration and engagement of the scheme. We also have been matchmaking employees and employers and facilitated signing of the contracts,” Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji added.
Besides that they also have expressed interest in skilled workers, he said, adding that they are working with TTIs to procure training equipment, hand tools and materials.
Lyonpo said, “We are working with TTIs to make arrangements for the people who would take up skilling in TTIs and hundreds of them were enrolled in TTIs.”
Other than that, they have been getting personal protective equipment (PPEs) and work dress. With having to go through the entire procurement procedure and trying to stock the materials of PPEs all at one time, there are disruptions in the chain of supply, he added.
Meanwhile, Lyonpo said that this is happening for the first time and they are trying to overcome some of the challenges, although they have designed a system and a process.
He said, “Employees would not have thought of joining a construction site and contractors must not have even thought of employing Bhutanese at their worksites until a few months ago. With this being new for everyone, the biggest challenge could be to gain the confidence from Bhutanese employees and to hire willing Bhutanese.”
Bhutanese employees, even after their registration, would find it difficult to really internalize and understand and to actually come in terms with the realities of the construction work on the ground, he said.
MoLHR foresees the challenges even as the registration, briefing and matchmaking goes on because people have change of minds, express a sense of dilemma and are not able to decide after they have registered.
“It would be simplistic for anyone to somehow assume all 1,664 employees who have registered will turn up. The same applies to the employers, on if they will take up all 4,078 workers, as their requirement is mostly for the skilled workers, whereas there is a scarce supply of the skilled workers,” Lyonpo said.
He said, “Whatever number we have for skilled workers, we will deploy them. Otherwise, we have to facilitate the import of skilled foreign workers. We are also skilling our people in TTIs. In two to three months time, we will have hundreds of them with some basic foundational skills which practiced on ground will make them skilled workers in a few months. They will be certified.”
The ministry is now focusing on delivering the work incentives as promised, in terms of giving the workers the PF scheme, additional wages, skilling them, giving them PPEs, ensuring that they will get decent accommodation, and ensuring there is a proper smooth matchmaking.
“We are ensuring that employment rules and regulations under the Act are being implemented. We ensure their safety and celebrate their sense of commitment and their sacrifices for nation building during such time,” Lyonpo added.
He said the ministry will come across challenges, ideas and suggestions and so some innovation can happen within the existing arrangement, they will work closely with contractors and employees to make BBP a success.