NC finds holes in the employment policy

Chairperson of the Social and Cultural Affairs Committee, National Council (NC) member of Bumthang, Nima, presented the preliminary report on review of the National Employment Policy, Program and Strategies this week.

NC found the need to review the policy as it was a national policy, to create and promote gainful employment opportunities for all its citizens, especially the youth who are the most affected.

The committee found that there were more nationals employed in private sector than expatriate workers, but there were more expatriate workers for specific construction projects.

NC member of Sarpang, Dhan Bahadur Monger, said that although the policy was to be reviewed after five years, however, due to the present unemployment scenario, the review on the policy had to be made after just two years. He said that there are job opportunities in the construction sector, but due to blue-collar tag, no Bhutanese workers are willing to take up the jobs. The committee also observed that there was more Bhutanese employed in Foreign Direct Investment companies in the country and the tourism sector employs about 30,000 Bhutanese workers.

While reviewing the National Employment Policy 2013 through its five dimensions; employment creation, employability of labour force, aligning employment market, working conditions and equal employment opportunities, the committee found that there were loopholes in the policy.

In employment creation, the committee found that the Local Government and dzongkhags cannot create employment as stated in policy since there is no fund allocation.

Further, the committee observed that construction workers are hired from neighboring countries as the Bhutanese youth do not show interest in the construction sector. Therefore employing, training and retaining a Bhutanese workforce is difficult even with incentives thrown in.

The committee also observed that there were also less consultation between the private sector and Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MOLHR). On the government plan to send jobseekers to overseas work places, the committee found that only 715 Bhutanese workers were sent overseas, making target to send 30,000 in the end of 11 Five-Year Plan difficult.

It also found that there is a lack of synergy between the education system and manpower needs, as more technical skills are demanded abroad.

NC member of Sarpang said that ministry would not be able to fulfill the target due to the lack of skilled Bhutanese workers, and moreover, Bhutan is not on the list of countries that send migrant worker.

In the employability front, the committee said there is the need to review the effectiveness of various training and employability programs.

In aligning jobseekers to the employment market, the committee said that there is a poor coordination between the bodies concerned on unemployment issue, stating there is a mismatch between supply and demand of human resources.

The committee also observed that there are less or fewer takers in the non-desk jobs because of the less salary, benefit and allowances.

On providing equal employment opportunities, the committee observed that there is a higher unemployment rate in female than male jobseekers. According to MoLHR,  less female ratio in tertiary education, unbalanced regional development and lack of targeted policy/data on physically challenged persons are reasons for the higher employment.

NC member of Samtse, Sangay Khandu, said that government will not be able to give full employment as promised. He said changing the attitude towards job will be better than giving the hope of finding the desired employment.

Eminent ember of NC, Tashi Wangmo, said the job and employment issue has been around for 15 years now, and asked committee to look into the outcome of MoLHR’s effort. She said the job opportunities in the private sector should be explored. She also shared that the committee should also look into the trend of employment from 1998 to 2012.

Eminent member of NC, Kuenley Tshering, spoke on the need to review the education policy.

NC member of Chukha, Pema Tenzin, said there are job opportunities in construction, agriculture, hydropower and overseas. He asked the committee to see how many Bhutanese are employed in the Foreign Direct Investment Companies. He suggested outsourcing some of government activities to the private sector.

NC member of Dagana, Sonam Dorji, said Bhutanese workers should be sent to safe countries with a good economy, like European countries, America and Australia. He also said that the private sector cannot provide jobs due to the poor state of the economy.

The committee submitted that it will come up with a comprehensive report to be presented in its winter session.

The overall unemployment rate was at 2.9 percent in 2013, and unemployment rate is higher in the age range from 20-24, and decreases with the age from 30-60, as per the Labor Force Surveys, MoLHR.

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