The Guaranteed Employment Program (GEP) was launched on 25 June 2014 by the government to address the youth unemployment issue. It was meant to provide a full employment opportunity in the country.
However, the Direct Employment Scheme (DES)-GEP Focal Person, Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR), Ugyen Dorji, said that once the youth agrees to take the jobs offered under DES, they are considered employed, and accordingly, their names are deleted from the job portal system.
He said that those who have withdrawn on their own from the jobs provided will not be eligible for any programs supported by the ministry in the future. “A total of 76 have withdrawn from GEP program (34 male and 42 female) from July 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015. Of which, 12 withdrew due to company shut down, 18 for better job opportunities in corporations, 40 on personal grounds, and 6 for getting scholarship outside the country,” Ugyen Dorji said.
He said that if participants are withdrawing from the program under normal circumstance, as per the guideline, they are each liable to refund 20 percent of the amount they earned (of the total amount paid) by MoLHR and employers. The clause was specifically included in the guideline to curb attrition and ensure the seriousness of the job.
Ugyen Dorji said that 20 percent of the total amount paid to the 35 participants has been refunded on March 31, 2015, but 41 of the participants have not given the refund. The money refunded by the participants goes back into the GEP fund.
“The task force members monitor the program from time to time (quarterly basis), collect attendance sheet at the end of every month and conduct ad-hoc monitoring with an evaluation form, internal auditors also check and balance,” said the DES-GEP focal person.
He said that some of the challenges faced by the DES task force include; jobseekers are not willing to accept the jobs available in the market as maximum of the jobs are non-desk jobs, the mindset towards the white collar jobs in the public sector, preference for jobs in urban areas, like Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Paro, increasing withdrawal cases, employers and jobseekers reluctant to sign tripartite agreement, and the collection of monthly attendance sheet required by AFD.
He said the GEP lends support for a maximum duration of two years in out-door and non-desk nature occupations, and one year support for occupations of in-door and desk nature. The two years support for some occupations are intended to make the jobs attractive to jobseekers.
“For instance, we still do not get adequate applicants for non-desk occupations, especially relating to construction, such as carpentry, welder, denting, painter, bill collector, and loader/unload and in hydropower and automobile mechanic. On the other hand, hundreds of jobseekers show interest if the requirement or the vacancy is for an office assistant,” stated Ugyen Dorji.
He said that since the start of the program till date, 1352 are employed under DES. Though there are some areas to be reviewed, in general, the program is seen as going well for both the jobseekers and employers.
According to the MoLHR records as of March 31, 2015, there were around 3181 vacancies compiled and announced (including re-announcement). 1352 jobseekers have been employed in various sectors, 1829 were unfilled vacancies, 744 vacancies were re-announced and 1085 actual vacancies were not filled up.
The 1085 actual vacancies were not filled up as many employers require professionals. Most of the vacancies are unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers, like house keepers and cooks in hotel, which the candidates are unwilling to join.