KP Sharma  

A technology-driven high-end economy could be a promising sector for generating more job opportunities in the future even as Bhutan faces the challenge of tackling increasing youth unemployment.

A visiting Professor and the Vice Chancellor from Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia, where hundreds of Bhutanese are enrolled,  said that employment can be generated when there is an improvement in the country’s overall economic landscape.

According to the vice-chancellor, Steve Chapman, adapting to technology-based employment is an important requirement in Bhutan’s evolving job landscape.

When the youths are equipped with technology-centric employment skills, it not only opens the door to employment within the country but also enables them to explore opportunities in the international markets, he said.

Adding to the global unemployment challenge, the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) has exacerbated job market issues. “AI has adverse effects on employment markets and we need someone to control it,” the vice-chancellor added.

Artificial intelligence has the potential to replace human workers, leading to potential job losses in the future.

In Bhutan’s context, while there has been a sufficient influx of workforce from various institutions, a challenge arises from the demand side as the job market struggles to accommodate all the jobseekers.

To tackle this challenge, Professor Steve Chapman suggested that given Bhutan’s size, it should shift towards becoming a high-tech economy.

The government should foster a supportive environment and invest in IT businesses and entrepreneurs, fostering growth and connections with technocrats from across the globe.

In the context of the current trend of Bhutanese citizens seeking employment abroad, he said that those who venture overseas for work should return and contribute to building the nation’s economy.

For instance, the Druk Trace app that was instrumental in tracking the movement of people during the pandemic was a product of the graduates of Edith Cowan University with computer science backgrounds who came back to Bhutan after their studies.

To bolster Bhutan’s human resource development, Edith Cowan University has committed to offering three to four scholarships annually for individuals seeking to pursue master’s degrees in counselling and psychotherapy in the coming years.