Yangchen C Rinzin

The growth in employment opportunities fell behind the rise in the number of job seekers for years which was mainly due to the absence of an appropriate education system.

Reorienting education to the world of work and changing time is one of the recommendations to address this problem according to the report on Determinants of Youth Unemployment in Bhutan released yesterday.

National Statistics Bureau in the report recommended that to better prepare youth and improve their prospects of employment, the current tertiary education courses need to be re-evaluated and assessed.

“Without limiting the primary goal of education, it is practical to also ensure classroom learnings to be relevant to the world of work,” the report stated. “The skills demand in the labour market should be imparted in the institutions and colleges.”

The report strongly recommended reviewing the curriculum and changing it based on the labour market needs on a periodic basis.

The findings from the study concluded that age, gender, skills, migration, disability, educational attainment, sector preference, and youths’ location in relation to the dzongkhag a person resides are all significant factors in explaining the difference in youth unemployment.

The objective of the study was to examine possible determinants of unemployment amongst the young Bhutanese population and shed some light on the nature and extent of the associated problems.

The report found that the university graduates prolong their entry into the workforce even to the extent of 2-3 years to attempt civil service exam thereby contributing to high youth unemployment.

However, the reality is that not each and every aspiring youth can find their employment in the civil service.

Which is why the study stated the government should promote the private sector as an engine of growth and enable its capacity to generate employment. “This could be achieved through ensuring job security mechanism and other fringe benefits,” the report stated.

The youth unemployment rate today stands at 11.9 percent, although a significant drop from 15.7 percent in 2018, the youth unemployment rates in Bhutan have remained consistently high. From 2010 to 2019 the rate has ranged from 7.3 percent to 15.7 percent.

Investment in agriculture to increase productivity could create decent employment opportunities and could be done through mechanisation and commercial farming, the report stated.

“This could be done through access to affordable financing and leasing of viable government land. It will increase growth and productivity of the sector and thereby create more employment opportunities in the process,” the report.

The report pointed out that despite strong economic growth, high unemployment rate persists and this was attributed to non-pro-employment economic growth.

The survey found that there were disparities in the labour market among the dzongkhags like Thimphu, Paro, Chukha, Sarpang where there is a high number of unemployed youths migrating from other dzongkhags in search of jobs.

As a result, those who have migrated are 62 percent less likely to be unemployed compared to those who have not migrated.

The government, according to the report, should promote balanced regional development and implement measures to reduce the pressure of unemployment by enhancing more employment opportunities in dzongkhags outside Thimphu.

“This could be achieved through establishing estate and economic zones, among many.”

Creating and promoting employment opportunities conducive for female job seekers, providing skills development through specific training programmes including re-skilling and up-skilling opportunities based on labour market dynamics are other recommendations.

“Government should also design and provide appropriate incentives to encourage agencies both in the public and private sectors. The government should also create conducive and work environment with accessible facilities for persons with disabilities.”