The increase is attributed to the introduction of favorable technical courses for women, congenial environment and heightened awareness creation
An increasing number of women are now willing to dirty their hands alongside their male counterparts, particularly going by the escalating turn over of female trainees in Technical Training Institutes (TTIs) in the country.
Of the total 740 trainees in the various TTIs, 257 are women today.
Principals of the institutes that The Bhutanese talked to said the enrollment of female trainees increased especially after the labor ministry introduced the Technical and Vocational Education Trainings (TVET) programs.
The Chief Human Resource Officer (HRO) of the ministry Karma said the third TVET conference resolved to introduce automation and mechanization of the training courses. This decision also led to, unlike previous years, the digitalization of courses that were more female friendly in nature.
The Principal of Samthang Technical Training Institute (STTI) in Wangduephodrang, Sangay Wangchuk, said that courses now are mostly female oriented encouraging more women to take up the profession, adding that it is pivotal for the institute to provide them with skills.
“All the machineries and equipment are electronic and digitalized now,” he added.
STTI was established in 2003 with three female trainees. This year the number has shot to 17.
Thimphu Institute of Automobile Engineering (TIAE) had only one female trainee in 2008 but now it has escalated to 11. It has 53 trainees altogether.
The Principal of TIAE, Bumchu Wangdi, said the courses the institute provides is not so woman friendly but it is trying to explore other measures to make them acquainted with the programs.
The institute provides courses like auto-mechanic engineering, panel beading and painting including auto-electrical courses.
“Although the course requires more physical work and is not conducive yet they are interested in it,” said Bumchu Wangdi.
The Sershong TTI in Gelephu has an equal ratio of male and female trainees. The institute currently has a total number of 157 trainees.
The institute provides civil courses such as masonry, plumbing, and carpentry, electrical, wielding, fabrication and upholstery designs.
“Female trainees are equally competent to male trainees and in some areas they are even better,” said the Principal of Sershong TTI, Lobzang Dorji.
Last year in Ranjung Technical Training Institute, Trashigang, all the position holders were female trainees. There are around 62 female students in the institute and most of them are in electrical, computer hardware skills and furniture making courses.
Similarly other institutes saw an increase in the number of female trainees.
Khuruthang TTI in Punakha had 29 female trainees in 2003, which increased to 65 this year. It has 203 trainees in total.
Chumey TTI in Bumthang has 94 female and 98 male trainees as of today.
The institute’s Principal, Sangay Dorji, said there was an increase in female trainees after the labor ministry intensified advocacy programs at gewog and dzongkhag level.
“With such programs most of the students and school dropouts were aware of TTIs and its related job opportunities,” he said.
Although the number of female trainees has gradually increased over the years, it is yet to change the market trends.
“The demand for female TTI graduates is a big issue,” said the principal of Khuruthang TTI, “as most employers demand male graduates as they are physically fit to do all kinds of work.”
The Chief HRO of labor ministry, Karma, said the ministry has no control over the demand factor in the market. “The employers have their own various reasons to demand for male TTI graduates,” he said.
However, he said, there are various agencies for instance the Helvetas that is assisting in making the courses more female friendly.
There are plans to launch portable machines for mixing sand and cement, which is now done manually at construction sites.
“With such programs in the future, there would not be any problem for female trainees in the job market,” said the Chief HRO.
A trainee at TIAE Lobzang choden said at the moment they are driven by sheer determination and enthusiasm though they are not sure about the job market.