About 66,000 jobseekers will enter the labour market in the 12th Plan, according to the 12th Plan human resource development master plan published by the labour ministry.

A budget of about Nu 1.9B will be required for the implementation of the master plan, which will focus on entrepreneurship programmes, industry attachment, short courses and revamping the technical training institutes, among others. This is considering that about 12,000 to 13,000 jobseekers will be entering the labour market annually.

Youth unemployment has increased from 9.6 percent in 2013 to 10.7 percent in 2015 and 13.3 percent in 2016.

In the 11th Plan, the report states that, the percentage of university graduates against total unemployed has decreased from 32.72 percent in 2013 to 27.9 percent in 2016, which is a drop from 3,210 to 2,244 in absolute numbers. This was attributed to skilling and industry attachment programs.

A total of about 3,000 graduates with undergraduate degree are expected to enter the labour market annually in the 12th Plan from in-country tertiary institutes. This includes those students on scholarship but excludes the self-funded graduates studying abroad.

“With more number of colleges offering arts and humanities program, there will be higher number of these graduates entering the labour market,” the report stated.

The RUB will offer more courses in media, ICT, agriculture and forest, and engineering sciences in the 12th Plan.

To make the graduates employable, the RUB will be providing entrepreneurship learning and support facilities in different colleges by introducing entrepreneurship modules and establishing incubation units.

Graduates from different Technical Training Institutes (TTI) and Zorig institutes will increase from about 700 in the initial years to more than 1000 by the end of the plan.

In the 12th Plan, the Department of Technical Education, plans to revamp the TVET system and bring greater diversity, quality and relevancy of TVET opportunities available in the country. For instance, new TTIs will be established in the fields of automobile and media programmes. Most of the existing TTIs and Institute of Zorig Chusum (IZC) will be upgraded to Vocational College to provide national diploma courses.

In the establishment survey that was conducted last year, 3,991 establishments have indicated vacancies for about 16,000 jobs in the 12thPlan, of which 72 percent of the vacancies are either in the micro or small establishments. “Most of these requirements are immediate in nature since many establishments lack long term human resource or business strategic planning,” it stated.

While unemployment has been a pressing issue in the country, the master plan states that Bhutanese workers are generally highly productive compared to the region.

In the last four years, each worker engaged in the primary sector has daily contributed about Nu 400 to the GDP. The average contribution from individual worker in the secondary sector is about Nu 1,300 and in the tertiary sector its about Nu 1,900.

The labour productivity assessment done by World Bank also indicates that between 2009 and 2015, estimated median productivity almost doubled from USD 5,700 a worker to more than USD 10,000 a worker. Labour productivity rate has been increasing in the last four years in all the sectors. The overall increase has been steady at about 6.5 percent in the 11th Plan.

However, for every Nu 1,000 contributed to the GDP, the average labour cost in the last four years is Nu 30. Although the secondary sector is one of the most productive sectors in the economy, it pays the least amount of wages to its workers (Nu 11). “Policy intervention in terms of wage reform through minimum wage revision will be an important strategy in the 12th Plan.”

Despite the masterplan, studies have found that graduates coming from different tertiary and secondary education institutions prefer to work in the government sector. A survey carried out during the development of the 4th National HRD Advisory indicates that about 50 percent of those graduating from different School-To-Work Transition (STWT) support programs offered through the MoLHR would prefer to work in the government sector.

The Beyond Graduation Survey 2017 gives an indication that 80 percent of the university graduates would first prefer to work in the government sector. “The option for private sector jobs or self-employment for many is a last resort, with one of the reasons being job security and good working condition within the government sector.”

Tshering Dorji