Unemployment, youth unemployment in particular, which hovers around 13 percent as we speak could get worse and compel us to deal with the issues well into the next decade. The prognosis is going by the number of jobs we are able to create against the number of young people alighting in the job market.

According to some estimate, close to 20,000 jobseekers are expected to enter the labour market annually. Our economy may be growing at an impressive rate, but we aren’t creating enough employment opportunities. And the challenge is growing. Because our young people are not willing to take the kind of jobs that are made available to them, it will be a daunting challenge for the government to address the problem of rising youth unemployment.

If young Bhutanese jobseekers are unwilling to take low-paying blue-collar jobs, the most sensible solution is encouraging self-employment. Private sector development, which is seen as the engine of growth, cannot happen without growing self-employment. However, even as self-employment has great potential to create employment opportunities, it has not been easy for young entrepreneurs what with lack of access to finance and allied factors.

The many interventions that we continue to employ like business orientation and skills and capacity building training are good, but they are only small parts in the big approach towards solving or reducing youth unemployment situation in the country. When we talk about youth unemployment, we must also recognise that we have those who are not in education, employment or training. The missing links must be addressed with right vision and planning so that we are able to address youth unemployment in a wholesome manner. We are inching towards adopting an education system that will suit the needs of the changing times. But we cannot be lumbering about.

Addressing youth unemployment will require major structural changes in the system that will encourage self-employment because this is the best option available to us.