We often come across stories of people who have travelled abroad seeking a job being virtually imprisoned by their hosts and treated like slaves.
Unfortunately, we are beginning to hear and read of such stories happening to our own youth who have gone abroad. There is a need for much more caution on the part of jobseekers, their employment agents, and the government when it comes to overseas jobs.
Lured by promises of desk jobs with fat salaries, some, both the job seeker and the employment agent, easily fall prey to fraudsters looking to make a quick buck.
This is indicative of our gullibility, a trait that reflects both positively and negatively.
While now on the decline, it was not too far back when many of us were falling for Nigerian email scams.
Promises of high-paying managerial level desk jobs is the same thing as the “free money” promised by the Nigerian scammers. There is no such thing as free money. And in a world, still suffering the effects of a global recession and millions unemployed, the chances of a desk job with a big fat pay check waiting for a fresh Bhutanese graduate is very slim.
Before money is paid, it is the responsibility of the jobseeker to authenticate the employment agent’s promises. Employment agents have to be held responsible in verifying, on the ground, if the job and benefits they find are realistic.
Granted, fraudsters can run elaborate scams that can fool even the most stringent employment agent, let alone young jobseeker. That is why the government must ensure a strict criteria is followed by both jobseeker and employment agent. Conditions, like the verification of the actual existence of a company and the post available, need to be fulfilled before money exchanges hands. There are other measures that need to be strictly followed, such as having a fool-proof method of verifying the security and safety of the employed person once on the job, and holding employment agents fully responsible financially and legally when they fail to deliver.
The government’s effort to solve the unemployment problem at home by looking abroad holds water. Many Bhutanese have found gainful employment abroad, some with good pay, but the work is usually tough and the working conditions strict. Competition from the millions of others from this region, willing to work harder and for less pay also can add to the stress. Not everyone can survive long in such jobs.
But a pledge of eventually employing 30,000 abroad in five years is unrealistic.
It would be comforting to know that the government, realizing this, will not attempt to meet this goal just to show the people that it delivered another promise.
The government must pursue this aim carefully and ensure all requirements are met through a vigorous screening process before a Bhutanese citizen is placed abroad. If the process is lengthy and time consuming so be it. We do not want to read stories about Bhutanese youth being imprisoned abroad in the homes of fraudsters.
At the same time, the issue of both our youth and government seeking greener pastures abroad to solve a problem at home boils down to a lack of entrepreneurial spirit in our society. This in turn, many agree, can be traced to our education system.
Efforts and investments to nurture creativity among our young must be sustained and if possible, significantly enhanced. A more creative society is a more entrepreneurial one. Perhaps, that way, the grass may be greener at home.
Creating more jobs in the short term is a major challenge any government faces. The blue collar sector seems like the easy answer. But many of us still prefer to employ expatriates to do so many of our blue collar jobs today. The question is are we being aggressive enough in changing this scenario.