The National Employment Forum (NEF) organized to address the issue of unemployment and find solutions through interactive exchange of opinions did not seem to find the synergized end goals as the participating youth and the jobseekers were not happy with the solutions which did pop-up for approval.
The forum conducted on 26 November in Thimphu observed agriculture as one enduring sector to employ the young graduates and solve the chronic unemployment issue.
The NEF suggested the option for young graduates to be educated farmers and begin introducing modern ways of farming and set an example for the rest that follows in future.
The suggestion was received with much annoyance and many grumbled about it. The youth representatives said they are not willing to take up this profession as suggested by the stakeholders.
Most of the jobseekers said that if that is so then we should have been acquainted to agricultural tools and remained ploughing fields instead of reading books and going to school.
A graduate Tendrel, 23 said that the whole forum was another factor to pressurize them.
“If government really wants to give importance to agriculture then they should come up with a set of agriculture curriculum, so that we can be an agriculturist or an educated farmer,” she said.
Another graduate Mani Raj Thapa said that he belongs to a farming background and he is the only son who did his degree and aspires to be a civil servant.
“Government is willing to give us incentives if we opt the farming as our profession but agriculture is still a sluggish sector,” he said.
In addition to that the graduates at the forum said that even if government provided incentives and subsidies it’s still difficult to implement in a rugged topography.
Kunzang pursuing his MBA said “it’s thoughtful but government should also think about why people are investing so much in education if farming is the ultimate aim of government”.
Tanden Tshering a private employee said no parents would expect their children to come back to villages and work in the field after spending a lot of money.
Editor of The Journalist Kencho Wangdi said instead of telling youth to change their mindset our leaders should change their policies to create employment, which they are not doing as of now. The government should place policies that would encourage entrepreneurship in Bhutan. Create conducive environment for entrepreneurs to grow.
“Entrepreneurship in developed countries is seen agents to transformative change and as a golden bullet to create large scale employment,” he said.
Describing the government’s move to address unemployment he said “That’s a quick fix solution to unemployment in Bhutan and quick fixes never last”.
A senior official said leasing land, providing incentives and subsidies are all distant dreams of the government since ground reality is something else.
A young man from Tsirang said why he should go back to village when there is nothing to do or earn.
A comprehending few at the forum however saw wisdom in the government’s suggestion.
“Making youths opt agriculture as their profession is a good strategy provided youths are ready and government is willing to create market and make it look decent and attractive,” said Japcho a civil servant.
Similarly Sonam a Teacher in the east supported the youth becoming an educated farmer.
“If government is simply providing their opinion without actual motivations then I think it is not worth being educated farmers,” he said. “I don’t think youth with small vegetable garden at home will get motivated. Government must answer their questions,” he said.
Editor of Bhutan Times Namkhai Norbu said that youth who studied for around 16 years becomes useless if they have to take up farming as an occupation.
Gasa MP Damcho Dorji said “The government should arrange all necessary arrangement for our topography and it has to be done on a massive scale”.