Youth unemployment becomes a topic of interest at NGOP 2015

The annual national graduates’ orientation program yesterday had a panel discussion about issues regarding youth and employment. Out of the many issues discussed with the graduates the main focus was on unemployment of university graduates. In the last two years about 15,000 were given employment but an increasing number of youths graduating every year from various colleges within and outside Bhutan are still unemployed..

As of 31st August 2015, 11,675 graduates are unemployed. According to the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, they have come up with initiatives like Guaranteed Skill Program (GSP), Guaranteed Employment Program (GEP) and Apprenticeship Training Program (ATP) and other programs where the youths are provided with entrepreneurship training and internships.

In addition to that the overseas employment program also has been helping youths get employed in countries other than Bhutan. The main affiliates are in Thailand, Kuwait and India. According to the secretary of MoLHR, the overseas employment program is for a period of three years during which the Bhutanese are exposed to the working environment of other countries which is totally different from the working atmosphere in Bhutan. “Bhutanese youths (working overseas) can understand how difficult it is to work and make ends meet in reality” he said.

Most of the graduates aspire to work in the civil service rather than the private sectors. White collar jobs are preferred to blue collar jobs. One of the graduate said, “We do not mind doing the blue collar jobs provided we get the equal amount of salary like those working in offices.” Secretary General of Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Mr. Phub Tshering said “Private sector in Bhutan is over regulated and that’s why it is not succeeding, nobody can change this except the government. RCSC in contrast will be more compact and will not expand.”According to him, private sector will ultimately be the largest employers and agriculture business will have a profound impact in Bhutan. The mismatch of skills was pointed out to be yet another reason leading to this predicament. “We study what we are taught in college, we select the courses from whatever courses are available in the university but requirements in the job market are entirely different” a Life Science graduate from Sherubtse told this paper. “Some of our seniors are bankers and you can notice the contrast in our field of study and the profession we end up in.”

There was a clear sense of concern among the many young graduates most of who are yet to get jobs in an increasingly competitive job market.

Discussions and Q&A on Suicide, subcontracting, consensual sex and substance abuse were also discussed.

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