Labour Minister Karma Dorji

Employment and attrition in the country

The recent trend of productive age group people and experienced people leaving Bhutan for countries, like Australia, is a major concern.

According to Minister of the erstwhile Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, Karma Dorji, experienced people leaving is a major concern because it takes time to replace the experienced workers.

With regards to numbers of young people going abroad, Lyonpo shared that local workforce has always been a concern. “Looking at the past trends, the local workforce has always been a concern, as in some sector of the country, we never had enough people and depended on foreign workers. In that sense, the absorption capacity in some economic sector is not much.”

“The economic workforce will not be hampered when young people are leaving as we have an option to provide foreign workers any economic activity that Bhutanese are not able to take, we are able to provide an opportunity to bring in cheap labour,” he added.

Bhutan’s attrition rate is going up as experienced workers are leaving and the biggest concern is brain drain.

However, he said there is hope that these people will come back again with more skills, more exposure and contribute to the economy.

Lyonpo also shared about the overseas employment program, till date, saw 9,876 Bhutanese leaving for employment overseas. He said that the people have come back after a few years and contributed to the economy.

He said, “They have always returned after three to four years. They have contributed to the economy, they have brought in money, they have started lots of business, and they have opened a lot diverse economy. I’m sure this will be the trend and those leaving for Australia will also bring forth the same trend after they return.”

“We are hopeful that all these issues will be sorted out, and we are putting in interventions and other necessary measures in place,” he added.

Youth unemployment rate stands at 20.9 percent according to the Labour Force Report of 2021 published by National Statistics Bureau (NSB).

With rising youth unemployment, the government has initiated and implemented many engagement, skilling and entrepreneurship programs to promote employment opportunities.

According to Lyonpo Karma Dorji, a major program implemented was the skill development plan actually initiated by His Majesty The King to give skills.

“We have been giving skilling to about 8,995 youth in 108 sectors which has been identified as required in the economy to make youth employment opportunity better. 70% of them get employed,” he added.

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