To fill the shortage of specialised skills

Rinzin Wangchuk 

The government would welcome Bhutanese who emigrated to Australia and other countries for further studies or better opportunities, but want to return home and continue with the profession they quit to leave.

Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering said that the government will soon announce the details  to welcome former teachers, nurses, and doctors who are interested in returning to serve the country and its people. “We have not discussed this with the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC), but there should not be any problem for returnees to join on a contract basis,” he said.

Lyonchhen was responding to a question raised by Kuensel on behalf of a Bhutanese who said there were many Bhutanese in Australia wanting to come back.

The Prime Minister explained that those wishing to return will not be formal civil servants, but will work on a contract basis. “Since it is a five-year contract, their benefits should be different from regular civil servants. And of course they would receive more,” he said. “We will try to make an announcement to address the concerns in the coming week.”

The Prime Minister said that such a system is already in place. “Even without an official announcement, we have already brought back many health professionals who have superannuated or retired on a contract basis,” Lyonchhen said. The health ministry has retained about six or seven specialists who retired but continue to work on contract for two years, with an extension of two more years, by offering a special package.

Lyonchhen also stated that this can be easily implemented in the special contract category for officers with lower levels of expertise. “I am not sure about the specific grade or level, but the opportunity is there if they are interested,” he said.

However, according to Lyonchhen, those who meet the required eligibility criteria must compete for executive-level positions, which are normally announced by the RCSC. For example, former Dzongkhag Education Officers (DEOs) can apply for director positions. “Specialists and individuals from the private sector can apply as long as they meet the necessary criteria,” the Prime Minister said.

Recently, during its 175th commission meeting, the RCSC revised the executive selection framework to expand the talent pool for leadership positions in the civil service. The RCSC decided to recruit candidates for executive positions from the specialist category and outside the civil service. These executive positions include directors, director generals, dzongdags, and secretaries.

The RCSC stated that the selection process will involve assessing the candidates’ domain and leadership competencies. This may include situational judgment tests, group and individual interviews that evaluate the skills, experience, and qualifications required for each position.

One Bhutanese individual working in Australia said that there are many highly skilled individuals who would like to return and join the service if given the opportunity. “When times are tough down there, they can come back and work here again,” he told Kuensel.

However, the majority of the Bhutanese, who migrated with their families and spouses in Australia, claimed that they were able to clear all their debts and invested millions in building homes back home.  “The Australia dream is not solely about sunshine and beaches, it encompasses a range of opportunities for personal and professional growth, access to quality education, healthcare, and social benefits,” one posted on his personal social media account.