PM says new ideas lacking to create jobs

MTR: The paradox of rising unemployment and inadequate human resource that had stifled the economy has not gone away. While there is a dearth of human resource in some government agencies, providing jobs is seen as herculean task.

This was again highlighted yesterday during the mid-term review of the 11th Plan. The minisry of labour and human resources revealed that the government is on track to achieving full employment, as pledged. For this 82, 000 jobs has to be created within the 11th Plan. Even as the recent unemployment rate has dropped to 2.6 percent, in absolute terms there are still around 9,174 individuals jobless.

However, scenario in the rural Bhutan has changed. Rural unemployment was brought down to 1.2 percent, already achieving the target of 2.1 percent. The employment director general, Sherub Tenzin attributed this to increased economic activities in the rural areas.

The state of the economy, he said demands jobs in agriculture, livestock and construction which requires physical involvement. On the flipside, he said it has become challenging to provide managerial and high level jobs. “The economy is not generating quality jobs.”

With the number of students coming out of universities increasing every year, it was revealed that the challenge will continue unless the education system is overhauled in line with the labour market.

Of the 339,569 labour force, more than 20 percent had attained higher secondary schooling or above.

Another Plan target, to employee job seeking graduates within six months of graduation was not practical. The director general said graduates aspiring to sit of the civil service examination has to wait for about six months after graduation. But as of June 30, last year 3,577 university graduates were employed of the 5,551 registered.

Bringing down the youth unemployment rate to targeted 2.5 percent and female unemployment rate to 5 percent are some of the areas classified “at risk” during the review meeting. Going by the 2014 figures, the former stands at 9.6 percent and the latter is at staggering 10 percent.

“Chronic unemployment” is half of the total 9,174 unemployed currently. Chronic unemployment is referred to those looking for jobs beyond a year.

Mismatch of aspirations and educational background, preference of male workers over female, among others are highlighted as common obstacles. Reforms in education system, skills development, and promotion of SMEs are but few recommendations the ministry provided.

PM calls for change

The problems and recommendations are something not new to the Prime Minister, who chaired the MTR.

“Since the day I joined civil service, the same problems were identified and the same recommendations were proposed,” Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay said sharing his experience of spearheading the establishment of vocational institutes in the country in different capacities.

“Vocationalizing the education system was a concern then and even now,” he said. “Nothing has changed because nothing has been done.”

Even the employment task force’s report, the Prime Minister said highlights the same problems and recommendations, because of which he asked the committee to re-work on the report. “There are no new ideas.”

If agriculture is an opportunity for instance, he said, the labour ministry should sit with the agriculture ministry and identify the opportunities and solve the problems. “If we don’t come up with new ideas, people are not going to get jobs,” he said.

He asked the officials to recommend to the government as to who should do what, including the Prime Minister.

Providing employment, he said is important not because the government pledged but for the wellbeing of the nation’s wealth- young human capital”

As for the areas under risk, the Prime Minister urged the officials to work hard in achieving the target.

Tshering Dorji