Youth unemployment is growing. For a country like Bhutan, this could have serious implications.

According to the labour ministry’s Labour Force Survey Report 2015, 147,000 people will be looking for employment by 2018. The figure is staggering. It is worrying.

The civil service cannot accommodate all the jobseekers in the country. Our private sector is small and is not able to create employment opportunities for young graduates.

It is time the country looked for both short- and long-term solutions.

How do we encourage self-employment, for example? Agriculture is a sector with great potential. If we can make agriculture attractive and viable, young people will be willing to take to the fields. That would in the long run help the country cut on imports and achieve the important national goal of self-sufficiency. It could also be an effective way to put a hold on rural to urban migration, which is one of the factors contributing to rising unemployment in the country.

The fact, however, is that fallowing of land is increasing by the year in the rural pockets of the country, while in the urban centres unemployment is becoming a serious issue. What this tells us is that we are not looking at development and employment generation from a larger perspective.

One of the reasons why a large number of young people in the country are jobless today is because employers demand job experience of at least three years. This is frustrating for young graduates. Even if our young people are willing to take up self-employment, which would in turn help create employment opportunities for many others, access to finance is not easy. Ultimately, their frustrations come out on the streets indicated by the increasing crime rate.

There is a need to look at how access to finance can be made easy for young people venturing into self-employment because self-employment is the only sensible solution to address the problem of rising unemployment in the country. This could, in fact, solve many of the challenges facing the country.