Govt plans to top up on salary and introduce professional standards to bring in Bhutanese into construction

The Economic Contingency Plan (ECP) Delivery Unit under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), said the Build Bhutan Project is a new program in the 12th FYP that aims among other things to build the construction sector as a viable employment generating industry or as an employment avenue for the youth as well as the general workforce.

An ECP official said that almost 20,000 people are currently actively seeking employment. Around 25,000 have been laid off.

The official explained that 2,000 people have shown interest to work in the construction sector while signing up for the Kidu Relief program.

The unit’s focal official, said, “Due to the disruption of works in a lot of private constructions and even critical government infrastructure development area, there is an opportunity, especially for those in the rural areas to generate some economic activities since these areas are in a more favorable and conducive location for people to work, as social distancing measures and all are not as much in these parts.”

Through the project, MoLHR is looking at engaging about 7,000 jobseekers. About 3,000 of them will be given specific skills enhancements training and certified with the National Certificate Level-2 (NC-2), and the National Certificate Level-3 (NC-3) by the ministry.

“We are looking at creating occupational groups for these types of occupational skills. As they can deliver these services in the form of contracts or can be gainfully employed, and make commercial benefit out of it. They can become like contracting agencies,” he added.

ECP team hopes to make it like a business model for contract carriers to seek opportunity and be sustainable, either as individuals or industry.

The official added that they are looking at a holistic way to address the needs in the construction sector, which includes the necessity to offer competitive wages to attract workers.

“In terms of attractiveness, wage is one component. Certain percentage will be topped up by the government to the minimum set wages provided by the employer. In addition to those, there will be other incentives like Personal Protective Equipment, gears and work place convenience like decent accommodation facilities to the workers,” he added.

MoLHR is also exploring other provisions like providing Provident Fund in the long run so that the construction sector becomes a professional workforce sector as well.

He added, “For the work sector to grow like that the actual work has to be professionalized, and to do that, the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS) will look to standardize, based on the meetings held with contractors.”

He also voiced the contractors’ suggestions to get the government support for a policy in place to professionalize the workforce in the sector.

“For example, if we need to specialize firms to make windows and doors, there should be something like a prefab conception in order to avoid small units and others within the carpentry or other services. Then there has to be some policy measures by the government to mandate and standardize, at least in government construction, if not all.”

He said based on the demand, people can come up with furniture houses or woodwork stations so that the sector can be professionalized and the industry can be developed around that.

He also said that the Bhutanese workers have requested for iron rings training as they unable to do such skilled work. Suggestion was also made to see if MoWHS could do some research in terms of standardizing column size for the buildings.

“So then based on the need of different buildings, based on the drawings, this can be supplied to different sites. Likewise, many small areas for electrical and plumbing can be made as professionalized work units.”

He said the workers must understand that now is not the time to be bargaining for higher wages, but it is an opportunity to literally build the nation with the help of the youth and workforce.

“Don’t just to see this as a lucrative employment opportunity, but as a way to serve the nation and build our own nation. These are the objective of the overall plans of Build Bhutan,” he further said.

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