Government outlines plans and efforts to address youth unemployment

The State of the Tsa-Wa-Sum 2015 shows that the government is doing its best in addressing youth unemployment. The Ministry of Labour and Human Resource (MoLHR) registered 5,869 job seekers last year and 3,842 have been placed in government offices and corporations. The annual report states, “A key ongoing initiative of the government is the Guaranteed Employment Programme for which Nu.192.550 million has been allocated to implement overseas employment, direct employment and youth employment schemes.”

Some 718 job seekers have been sent abroad under the Overseas Employment Scheme so far. Another 1,222 job seekers have been employed by various enterprises under the Direct Employment Scheme and 240 youths have been trained under the Youth Employment Scheme. Under the Graduate Skills Programme, fresh graduates are provided with self-employment skills. A total of 69 graduates have completed as of date and 158 are undergoing training. The government has also established a high-level multi­sectoral employment task force to identify immediate solutions for creating employment.

The report emphasizes that the national unemployment rate was brought down from 2.9 % in 2013 to 2.6 % in 2014. The youth unemployment rate has similarly fallen down from 9.6 % to 9.4 %. This also suggests that there are 3,680 youths left unemployed today.

Youth is the largest segment of Bhutan’s population with 145,611 in the ages of 15 to 24. The report states, “The government has always and will continue to place high importance in investing in children and youth and in empowering the future nation-builders of our country.”

The report also highlighted that His Majesty The King has, time and again, reminded of the importance of inculcating values, skills and a sense of national identity to young people so that they grew up as a responsible citizen and make positive contributions to the community and the nation. Given this importance, the report states, the need has been felt for greater strategic investment in the country’s youth. Unemployment as well as the rising number of drug abuse, crimes, depression and suicide cases are among some of the key challenges faced by this group of the population.

One challenge the country has been facing is a mismatch between jobs available in the market and the skills and aptitude possessed by the youth, the report analyses. It is further compounded by the dichotomy between the blue-collar jobs and their attitude towards such jobs. “The government has undertaken numerous initiatives and programmes to reconcile such dichotomies. However, the government alone cannot address this issue and addressing youth unemployment will also require the collective effort from our youth’s side.” The report continues the country’s youths need to change their attitude and outlook towards the available jobs to break through the problem and they should be willing to accept and embrace the available employment opportunities.

“Out of about 3,500 jobs available 1,718 jobs are still vacant as the youth don’t want these jobs. Whether the youth accept the jobs or want better jobs it is about choice and they should not give up. The government is still resolved to creating and providing meaningful employment opportunities,” the report states.

Also addressed are some of the other social issues that the country’s young people are facing, which include abuse of drug and alcohol as well as suicide and mental health issues. The government has undertaken a myriad of initiatives to addresses these issues, by waking more awareness on harmful effects of drugs through documentary programs, prevention programs in schools and with families. The government’s measure also include strengthening counseling and other services as well as supporting to rehabilitation and reintegration initiatives for those addicted to substance abuse.

Suicide and mental health issues have emerged as an issue of concern. Initiatives undertaken by the government include a study on the trend in suicide from 2009 to 2013, which indicates the suicide rate is the highest for people below the age of 13 years. Given the urgency of the issue, a 3-year action plan for prevention of suicide has been approved. The plan aims to ensure that principals and teachers are more aware and vigilant about the signs and symptoms of depression and suicide, and hence prevent suicide attempts.

 

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