First employment forum aims to end blame games and find solutions

The first of its kind National Employment Forum will be held on 26 November, in the capital. Representatives and stakeholders from the government, the employers (corporate and private sectors) and youth representatives will attend the forum.

Labor Secretary Pema Wangda said it is conducted with the main objective to address youth unemployment which is a serious concern in the nation and a serious challenge for the government.

“Currently the national unemployment rate is 2.1% while youth unemployment rate is 7.2%, but it fluctuates from time to time,” he said. “There are chances of it getting worse in the future if no remedial steps are taken.”

The labor ministry (MoLHR) as the government representative has consistently addressed such issues through Technical Vocational and Educational Training (TVET) and employment plans.

Pema Wangda said although the unemployment rate is reduced from what the ministry targeted yet the ministry is not complacent about the situation. In the area of employment and unemployment, blame games are rampant among the jobseekers and government, and employers and employees.

The ministries sometimes blame jobseekers for not taking up the job that is available and job seekers feel there is no job in the market.

Therefore to foster better understanding of unemployment issues and pave the way forward for collaborative actions, the ministry with support from United Nations Development Program (UNDP) initiated the national employment forum.

“The forum is not intended to debate on the weaknesses and the failure of different sectors but to come up with consensus on the real issue that is unemployment,” the labor secretary said.

The forum will identify and build consensus around a set of concrete actions including building on the recommended solutions in the draft Millennium Development Goals Acceleration Framework (MAF) action plan to address unemployment in the country.

It will be done by presenting evidences, through statistics and data-based objective analysis to enable de-bunking of myth or the mystery of unemployment which is opposed by preconceived perceptions such as lack of skill in employees, mismatch in skills required by job market and many related perceptions.

Apart from that different stakeholders will present their challenges and practices including entrepreneurship development programs.

The forum is expected to provide better understanding and clarity among the main stakeholders on employment challenges in the country from labor demand to labor supply and also from the job seekers perspectives.

The ministry’s aim is to come up with a holistic approach to support the implementation of the National Employment policy and strategy.

The draft National Employment Policy is in its advanced stage and currently awaits approval from the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC). “The policy will rigorously address the emerging issue of unemployment,” Secretary Pema Wangda said.

Under the draft 11th Five Year Plan ‘full employment’ is defined as one of the 16 National Key Result Areas. The forum will help stakeholders decide what to do to curb the rising unemployment in the nation especially among the youth.

The Labor Secretary said that such forum should have been conducted earlier but similar consultation meetings were held by the ministry with different stakeholders at different forums.

“Many issues related to unemployment that media have reported till date will also be discussed in the forum,” he added.

The ministry expects a large number of youth to attend the forum and share their views and issues they faced openly in the forum. The success of the forum will depend on the response from the youth who will be one of the main stakeholders.

Director Sangay Dorji of the Department of Human Resources (DHR) said the forum is open for suggestion to end the ‘blaming game’ and point each other toward the emerging issues. “And hence come up with solutions and recommendations to solve the unemployment issue,” he said.

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