An attitude for unemployment

The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources has an employment program called the Guaranteed Employment Program (GEP), which pays more than 60 percent of a reasonable total salary of an employee for up to a year on a monthly basis. The company has to meet the rest of the sum.

Employees get an assured salary in addition to the much required work experience, while private companies get a help with their finances.

Now this scheme is a no brainer and one would assume a big rush of unemployed youth competing for such jobs.

However, to the surprise of the Labour Ministry the response so far has been lukewarm at best. Believe it or not, the ministry is having trouble getting youth to register and also in spending the GEP money.

According to ministry officials, very often, even if people register for the program only a small number of those who actually registered turn up for the actual job interviews.

On the other hand when a senior job position opens up there are literally hundreds of young people competing for the job even though many may not have any job experience. However, in many cases many graduates cannot even write a simple letter or an essay.

Now when some of these people are hired and the work turns out to be a bit challenging or the company asks for better performance then there is a high attrition rate. Some even prefer to drop out and remain unemployed depending on the supportive Bhutanese joint family.

All of the above highlight important things about the nature of unemployment in Bhutan and the attitude of our youth and society in general.

It is time to face reality, especially with the GEP experience, that not only do many still expect the government to make the spoon but they also expect it to be brought to their mouths and be fed. A similar scheme like GEP in any other neighboring country would have been mobbed and there would be cut throat competition for it both among employees and companies. The government is literally offering free money and jobs with limited conditions but the unenthusiastic response is very revealing.

Forget about blue collar jobs, there is an upper lip attitude even to decent starting out office jobs. On the other hand, the rush for managerial or senior level positions shows that for a young and liberal generation there is still a very hierarchical mindset towards earning a living. Very few seem to realize the ladder of professional success has to be climbed from the bottom, one day at a time.

Another major problem, which exposes a flaw in our education system, is that even graduate candidates do not come equipped with basic skills like writing and communicating. Nobody expects a ready-made manager or some professional to graduate from college. However, there are some basic universal requirements that a good education is supposed to give which are lacking in far too many candidates. IT graduates come with no practical concept of IT, Engineer graduates can’t even pass a basic exam, nurses have to be retrained, humanities graduates are uncomfortable communicating etc.

Then there is the problem of the high rate of attrition. It is high time to admit that these days too many Bhutanese parents mollycoddle their children and as a result a large percentage is unable to compete in the real and competitive professional world. There is a tendency to raise the white flag at the slightest hint of professional difficulty and trouble.

It is perfectly okay and even smart to jump jobs for the right reasons like higher pay and promotions, but in our case many give up too easily when faced with challenges. Employees in similar professions in neighboring countries go through hell and high water to not only get jobs but more so to struggle and persevere for success.

Many in Bhutan admire Singapore’s economic model, and it should be rightly admired given its huge success even with very little material resources including land. However, the success of Singapore has been and will continue to be its hardworking and disciplined people. It is high time that we take a good and hard look at ourselves and see where we need to improve as a people, society and nation. Ultimately, as with individuals, the greatest challenges for a nation are more internal then external.


“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it”
 Thomas Jefferson





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