Technical Indian manpower shortage leaves a huge void in Thimphu and border towns

The opportunity is now open for those from the national workforce

The forced closure of the border means that day-workers and non-national employees who used to carry out many of the works around the border areas and some sectors in Thimphu have left a vast gap in light of their absence.

Particularly one badly affected sector in terms of manpower is the automobile sector which quite heavily relied upon  Indian manpower and expertise.

Karma Tenzin of the Automobile Association of Bhutan representing workshops said, there is quite a void left due to the missing labor force that used to be from India. He said that about 10-12 workshops who had been expecting their workers to return back after the mandatory cooling period of 6 months after each mechanics’ third year was not possible due to the border restrictions.

However, he stated that, they had brought this under consideration at one of the meetings with the relevant member associations of the BCCI and that if they had to bring the workers in, they would have to pay a sum of Nu 200,000 and be accountable for their quarantine expenses. He said that this would not be a favorable option therefore they had halted the decision.

As per his report he said that there were about 108 Indian male workers spread across 124 workshops in Thimphu alone.

He said that the actual numbers may be higher as some Indian workers might not have filed in their information for the data survey.

The workshops employ about 686 national workers including 299 female workers who are also working in the sector either directly or in the 47 canteens around the workshops.

He said that although there are Bhutanese man power too, the expertise level cannot be generally matched especially in terms of panel beaters, for denting, painting and other works which even some Technical Training Institutes (TTI) graduates and Bhutanese workers are picking up.

While in Phuentsholing, the situation seems to be worse as highlighted by the Regional General Secretary of the Automobile Association, Dawa Drukpa. He said that almost all the private workshops are non-functional and even the likes of Zimdra and others are carrying out work on a smaller scale than usual with the help of a few Bhutanese workers. As for the region he said that, it had heavily relied upon the day workers from India for most of the works.

The GS stated that, he had even put forth a request to the Regional Director of MoLHR if Bhutanese workforce could be availed at a time like this and he hopes to see them take up the task. However, he said that, there were Bhutanese TTI graduates and others in the past who did work for very short durations for about 3 months and afterwards they would usually quit looking for other options.

He said that he is quite astonished as to where the TTI graduates are being absorbed as they hardly have any applicants from the TTIs.

As per the Kamal Pradhan, GS of Industrial Service Sector in Gelephu, the situation is quite similar to Phuentsholing as the lack of day workers have left businesses resorting to other adaptive measures. In Gelephu he stated that, even other places who used to hire day-workers like hotels, some households and others might be finding it hard to cope-up with the change in times. As per their statistics, nearly 700 day-workers would enter Bhutan on an average which leaves a huge gap in manpower.

To this he said that, if Bhutanese people can fill this void, about 1000 jobs are available.

He said that, the jobs are not very preferable but still doable if the mentality of work for the people vary slightly. He added that these works are not necessarily all manual or those which require heavy physical capabilities but ones which can even be done by females.

On behalf of these sectors he said that, if people do come forward they can allot proper wage rates as per the government’s minimum requirements and as per him, the Ministry of Labor has also been providing Nu 5000 for any Bhutanese employee under their wing as part of the Guaranteed Employment Program (GEP).

Tshewang Rinchen, Office of the Minister, MoLHR said that the Ministry is currently assessing their situation to come up with appropriate responses.

He added “as per the information maintained by the Ministry, most of the TTI graduates are absorbed in the job market. The Ministry is in the process of carrying out tracer study of the TTI graduates which will give comprehensive information about them. This will enable the Ministry to make informed decisions benefiting the institutes and the trainees”.

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