Yangyel Lhaden 

If youth’s preference for vocational opportunities has to change, interventions to change mindset and attitude towards such jobs must also target parents, a new report on addressing youth unemployment said.

It stated that parents and Bhutanese society at large also influenced youth’s job preference.

Labour ministry (MoLHR) with UNDP launched the report “Addressing the Youth Unemployment Challenge in Bhutan through a Systemic Portfolio-Based Approach” yesterday.

The findings, interventions, and recommendations from the report are expected to flatten the youth unemployment curve in Bhutan.

According to the Labour Force Survey 2020, youth unemployment has doubled in one year from 11.9 percent in 2019 to 22.6 percent in 2020. Labour Minister  Karma Dorji said that the economically productive population of Bhutan is challenged by the demands of the emerging job market and economic landscapes. “This has resulted in an increasing trend of unemployment, and in particular, youth unemployment.”

Lyonpo said that while the ministry was tasked to create enabling conditions to smooth out the labour market complexities, it is understood that a holistic approach is required to address these complexities.

“Labour market issues cannot be resolved with siloed approaches targeting only particular points in the web of complexities. Perhaps, this fact has undermined the current interventions of the ministry to regulate and facilitate the labour market effectively,” he said.

Senior Programme Officer with MoLHR Tshering Choki said that youth unemployment was a multi-dimensional issue and it was important to study the whole issue as a system and not as parts of the problem.

She said that to understand the youth unemployment a system-based study was done. “In this report, the youth unemployment is analysed from the perspective of the system as a whole.”

Some of the factors and pain points identified causing youth unemployment were siloed approach from agencies, social norms and stigma, preference for civil service jobs, narrow safety net and weak information flow.

UNDP Resident Representative Azusa Kubota said that the report presented a mix of long-term and short-term interventions for systemic and transformational change. “These solutions are critical for creating ‘enabling environments’ to harness the potential of young people.”