As many residents in Thimphu pour out their frustrations on dealing with their waste, three young university graduates are working out a solution.

Their modest workstation is filled with the stench from  food waste. The three youth dig into the bags of waste as they work on converting them into manure for various fields.

While their business idea is promising, the task is not easy. Challenges are plenty. For the start, they don’t even know how to get help or who could help them with finance or writing proposals to potential funding agencies.

The Labour Force Survey 2020 projects youth unemployment rate to be 22.6 percent, almost double the rate of 11.9 percent in 2019. There are 6,922 unemployed youth who are actively looking for jobs. The overall unemployment rate has increased  to 5 percent. Except for  2019, we have marked an increasing trend in unemployment rate over the recent years.

According to some pre-Covid-19 estimates, close to 20,000 job seekers are expected to enter the labour market annually. The pandemic has added more to that figure.

The pandemic has had a major effect on jobs worldwide. The industry and service sectors remained closed, which brought down job prospects for the unemployed. Overseas returnees and those laid-off workers by the affected industries worsened the situation.

One of the main challenges in solving the unemployment problem has been the reluctance of young people to take the kind of jobs that are made available to them. So it has been a daunting challenge for the government to address the problem of rising youth unemployment.

Quite Often,  we hear about launches of financing schemes for youth, small and medium enterprises, and farmers. If college graduates don’t know about them then we can safely conclude that not many are aware. The concerned agencies need to invest in reaching the information out through every possible medium.

Help has to reach youth with the will and ideas to be self-employed and create jobs easily and swiftly. The CSIs need continued support beyond their launch and the CSOs can make that happen. The 12th Plan which aligns with sustainable development goals 2030 provides the space for their active participation.

With a new labour secretary and the labour reform plan approved by the Cabinet, there is some hope. What we also need to recognise is that we have those who are not in education, employment or training. The missing links must be addressed with the right vision and planning so that we are able to address youth unemployment in a wholesome manner.

There are many foreign workers operating successfully as barbers, cobblers, and tailors, among others. Going by the way they earn while in Bhutan to meet massive expenditure, say  marriage of their children back home, their average income could easily put to shame what many of us earn.

It means there are opportunities to earn, live comfortable lives and also generate employment. There is something amiss and we need to fix that.