To address the issue of youth unemployment and strengthen the nation’s workforce, Bhutan has been on a visionary journey to revamp its Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system. With five political parties pledging their commitment to TVET enhancement, and a mission to build a work-ready, world-ready, and future-ready workforce, the country is gearing up for a transformative journey in skills development.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) has set an ambitious target in the 13th Five-Year Plan to increase the proportion of the workforce certified in vocational and technical skills to 80 percent by 2029. Despite the decrease in the number of employed individuals with TVET qualifications from 10,457 in 2021 to 7,085 in 2022, there is a strong commitment to creating a work-ready workforce.
One of the central challenges facing Bhutan is the rising youth unemployment alongside the import of foreign workers. To address this complex issue, the five major political parties have pledged comprehensive initiatives, each presenting a unique approach to enhance TVET.
Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa, for instance, has laid out a strategy, including the introduction of a TVET curriculum in 20 schools, offering diploma and technical degrees, facilitating private TVET institutions, and establishing a state-of-the-art TVET college in collaboration with international counterparts. This multi-faceted approach aims to create a vibrant TVET culture while ensuring that Bhutan’s workforce is not only work-ready but also prepared for the challenges of the global economy.
Similarly, the Bhutan Tendrel Party emphasizes the need for financial support to schools for alternative education programs, highlighting the importance of a conducive learning environment. The party also advocates for modernizing curricula, optimizing program durations, and providing collateral-free loans to promote 100% employability tied with enrollment certification. BTP pledges to re-align TVET education to create a vibrant TVET culture in collaboration with renowned institutions abroad, empower private sectors to institute TVET programs, prioritize and support internships and accreditation, and provide opportunities to every citizen to acquire TVET irrespective of their educational background.
Meanwhile, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa focuses on building competent and motivated TVET professionals, developing a national strategy aligned with the country’s development goals, and integrating digital technologies into the TVET curriculum. The emphasis is on quality standards for both HE and TVET, along with simulation-based learning environments.
Expanding enterprise, technical, and vocational skills development in schools is a priority, with plans to improve vocational and skilling training programs in high schools. Support for schools includes providing adequate machines, training materials, and master trainers. The party aims to bridge the gap between TVET institutes and the private sector by encouraging partnerships and contracts, fostering firsthand business skills for students. Collaboration with private institutes and the recruitment of world-class master trainers are also emphasized in their strategy.
The People’s Democratic Party pledges to establish a TVET institute at the unused Kelki school, expanding TVET institutions to accommodate every youth seeking skills development in their chosen trade. Their focus on sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, engineering, construction, IT, and hospitality reflects a strategic alignment with the changing demands of the job market.
The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa said it will redesign the skill-oriented education and training programs to respond to labor market demands.
As Bhutan aims to fulfill the target of achieving 80 percent of the workforce in vocational and technical skills by 2029, these initiatives are crucial steps in building an organized and future-ready economy. The emphasis on inclusivity, collaboration, and modernization underscores the effort to create a skilled community that can contribute meaningfully to the nation’s development. The journey towards a skilled Bhutan is indeed a collective effort, with each political party pledging to a vital role in shaping the future of the nation.