Bhutanese going to Australia is a new trend. It is a new trend because of the sheer number of people leaving the country.
Is it a cause of concern? Yes, it is. No, it is not.
Whenever people talk about Bhutanese going to Australia, the debate is, unfortunately, centred only on the so-called “brain drain”. For any country, developed or developing, brain drain is a serious issue.
For a country like Bhutan, the issue becomes big and much deeper because, small as we are, we are losing professionals from all sectors. At a time when we are talking about a compact and efficient human resource pool, we could be losing big time.
Experience is important for the long-term success of the civil service system; not just in Bhutan but also in governments everywhere. Brain drain is a serious issue facing the country today, but how are we really tackling the issue?
Not very appreciably, going by the developments we are witnessing.
It took years for Bhutan to unshackle itself from the banes of a system that helped the country to launch forward. But the system now seems to be becoming more enclosed and corralled, which appears to be one of the main reasons why mid-level and senior civil servants choose to go to Australia.
Bhutanese going to Australia is not a problem. When the country cannot give the people hope and opportunities to do well, financially and otherwise, a move to a greener pasture is something that no one can stop.
The reality is that people are leaving, in droves, from critical sectors such as education and health. Leaving is one, leaving with years of experience is another.
Schools are losing experienced teachers and the country’s health system is losing manpower at a rate which has already left a huge void. There are simple reasons we need to understand.
Our civil service system has not been able to catch up with the massive changes that have occurred in the way human resource is employed for better results over the years. Medals and accolades do little to inspire professionals in the sector.
There are some serious issues that we must deal with, urgently. Burnout, toxic and unfair working conditions and inadequate benefits are some of the cancers that are creeping into the system.
A revolution, sort of, seems to be coming, which is welcome. But unless we deal with the inherent problems in the systems, nothing will stop Bhutanese from going to Australia and elsewhere.
There must be a major policy shift to effect a significant change. Experience pool leaving the country is not a good sign.