5,371 unemployed youths vs 6,373 job vacancies in Bhutan

This includes 586 current vacancies in State Owned Enterprises

Imagine an unemployed graduate declining to apply for a government corporation job where his minimum starting pay would be Nu 15,000 along with job stability, provident fund, increments and all the benefits that government employees get.

Yet, this is the ground reality of the ‘youth unemployment problem’ in Bhutan where even remunerative and stable government backed jobs are not being taken up by youth.

There are more than 586 vacancies in various State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) like Farm Machinery Corporation Limited, Green Bhutan Corporation Limited, and Bhutan Livestock Development Corporation Limited that Bhutanese youth are even refusing to apply for.

Here, the pay is fixed according to the level of education. So a graduate would start with a minimum pay of Nu 15,000 per month, a class 12 pass out with Nu 12,000 a month and class 10 pass out with Nu 9,500 a month.

As mentioned above they would get provident fund and all other benefits entitled to them.

The positions still available are farm assistant (100 slots), technician III (181slots), livestock assistant (100 slots) and worker or helper (205 slots), all of which still remain vacant.

The Director General of the Department of Employment and Human Resources, Sherab Tenzin said the current situation is mostly to do with the youth’s aspirations and attitude towards non-desk and also blue collar jobs.

“The youths are currently in the transitional phase whereby they are indecisive about their career choices and are confused as to really start working or not. Moreover, their choices mostly revolve around desk jobs and they expect managerial positions right away and never even try to consider the non-office jobs as it requires physical engagement” said the director general.

The director also pointed that most youths, especially those living in the urban areas with their parents in a strong joint family structure, are not as pressed or obligated to find a job because of which they develop a finicky structured mindset in regard to their job preferences and choose to remain unemployed.

At the larger national level, the Labor Ministry has recently listed out 6,373 actual job vacancies in Bhutan that are not being filled. These vacancies apart from the SOE are in FDI hotels, hotel and tourism industry, front desk, fabricator, bakers, construction, agriculture, among others.

This is compared to the 5,371 unemployed youth found by the detailed Population and Housing Census of Bhutan 2017.

They constitute the 10.6 percent youth unemployment rate of the total 2.4 percent unemployment rate.

Of the 5,371 unemployed youth around 3,208 youths are in the urban areas.

The labour ministry said that the working conditions and environment for in-country vacancies are governed by Labour and Employment Act 2007 and its service rule.

All benefits and entitlements are based on their ISR and the Labour and Employment Act, 2007.

Officials from the labour ministry feel the need to increasingly divert and prioritize youths into vocational institutes after they graduate from high school, as currently more emphasis is placed on tertiary education.

This would help to both change mindsets and equip youth with the right skills.

In Singapore, 60 per cent of students already pursue the technical and vocational track in their post-secondary education to help students gain deeper industry-relevant skills with enhanced internships.

It is said that the enhanced internships have structured learning outcomes and mentors to better guide the students.

As a way forward here on in the 12th FYP, an official from the labour ministry said it would be practicable if the government lay out an hourly wage system instead of the minimum daily wage basis in order to provide flexibility of working hours which would attract more youths to take up jobs, mostly in the construction sector. The official also added that such plans should be backed up with proper social security, pension benefits and subsidized accommodation.

However, majority of the youth unemployment reported falls within the age group of 15-24 years which labour officials said is a natural phenomenon around the globe since they are going through a phase whereby they are largely undecided and spend exploring ways to find their interest and they are not under much social pressure. The employment rate among the middle aged group (25-35) is lower as compared to young aged group (15-24) in Bhutan.

A total of 33,064 youths were placed through various employment programs by the Ministry from 2013-2018 out of 34,887 vacancies announced. MoLHR facilitated employment to 1,509 youths (812 males and 697 females) in various State Owned Enterprises (SoEs).

The availability of 5,000 vacancies as announced by Lyonchhen in the State of the Nation was based on the job fair vacancies and other vacancies the Ministry gathered towards May 2018.

A total of 4,459 vacancies were announced during the job fair of which 498 were placed and 33 opted for Training. On the other hand, a total of another 1,914 vacancies which consisted of overseas, Direct Employment Scheme and vacancies from FDI hotels were collected. Therefore, the updated job vacancies available with the ministry is 6,373 right now.

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