The UN Resident Coordinator/ UNDP Resident Representative, Christina Carlson, launched an online game platform ‘Youth@Work Bhutan’ yesterday in Thimphu. The aim of the online game is to engage the Bhutanese youth to enter into productive dialogues that create solutions to the problems of youth unemployment.
The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) and UNDP have launched an online social media game ‘Bhutan Community Plant’, which gives any person with 3G or internet access, the ability to participate in a conversation that will help inform them of UNDP’s recommendations to the Royal Government of Bhutan, regarding several issues pertaining to youth employment. The game will go online for three weeks, from October 24 till November 14, 2014.
Almost half of Bhutan’s population is below the age of 25 and the overall unemployment rate is 2.9 per cent as of 2013. The rate of unemployment among the youth is considerably higher; males at 9.2 percent, and females at 9.9 percent. The unemployment rate among the youth in urban areas is higher, at 20.2 percent and 29.5 percent for males and females respectively.
The UN Resident Coordinator said that creating gainful employment for youth, with a focus on quality of employment, has become a key priority for Bhutan. She added that UNDP Bhutan is carefully considering how it could support the government in addressing youth unemployment. “We understood that UNDP cannot directly create jobs, that is not our expertise, but what we can do, and do well, is work closely with the government and civil society organizations to provide the necessary data that will enable policy makers to design policies that create jobs,” said Christina Carlson.
Therefore, UNDP is using the innovative approach of engaging people through online game to open up meaningful public conversation about youth unemployment issues and finding solutions. To explore this field of “gamification” in practice, UNDP Bhutan and the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources partnered together with the Engagement Lab in Emerson College, USA and the Institute of Management Studies, Thimphu.
A release states that the input from game participants in Youth@Work Bhutan are expected to provide new insight, and generate the most relevant policy recommendations to government ministries for formulating responsive employment creation, and facilitation strategies on youth employment in rural and urban areas.
The online game also enables sourcing local, short-term project ideas addressing youth unemployment issues in Bhutan. The players are given challenges posed as questions, which examine issues of youth employment. Over the course of three week-long themed missions, players will have the opportunity to share their opinions, earn points (coins) for thoughtful answers, and engaging with others on the site, and then to allocate those coins to player-created causes for small, local projects.
The exciting design aspect of Youth@Work Bhutan is that any player can create a cause as a group, organization or individual. At the end of the game, the top three virtual coin earners among the suggested causes will win Nu.50, 000 each as seed money.
UNDP in Bhutan is especially interested in causes that create opportunities for youth to network or launch entrepreneurial projects with seed funding. Over 1000 participants are expected to come onboard through the online discussion and deliberation – nearly 800 had already signed up on October 23.