Ministry recruiting professional and skilled workers

Yangyel Lhaden

To help the construction industry that has almost come to a standstill and fill gaps at the professional level, the labour ministry is recruiting skilled workers and professionals while also allowing those who left the country before the pandemic to return.

According to the labour ministry’s revised definition of recruiting professionals, professionals are those certified by a recognised professional/ accreditation body of the country’s origin. Skilled workers are workers with special skills and knowledge especially in the construction sector such as masons and tile layer.

The construction sector is hit the hardest. With the closure of border, the country is short by about 50 percent foreign workers. During normal times, around 50,000 foreign workers are there in the sector. Currently, there are only about 23,000 foreign workers across the country.

The labour ministry has received hundreds of applications to recruit foreign workers. Labour minister Ugyen Dorji said that the applications are under review for approval. Lyonpo said that there were various aspects to look into before approving the request. He said that not only should they be skilled but also the number should be in line with carrying capacity of the country’s health infrastructure, availability of quarantine facilities, and availability of test kits among many others.

Any person or government agencies recruiting foreign workers should follow the guidelines generated by the labour ministry. One of the requirements is that relevant agencies and employers should bear all the expenses of quarantine and testing kits of foreign workers.

Lyonpo said that verification of skills specified in the application would be done once they are in the country. This is because it was difficult to screen from the applications. “Foreign workers who are not skilled will be sent back and penalties will be imposed on the employer,” Lyonpo said.

Among many obligations and conditions, employers must employ workers from the Build Bhutan Project (BBP) and train them with skilled foreign workers. About 1,164 applicants have registered with the BBP as of July 29. However, 4,078 workers are required in the construction sector as per the requirement of those in the construction sector.

Lyonpo said that the ministry was doing a favor by allowing foreign workers and the employers should also do a favor to the country by ensuring foreign workers train local people. “We wouldn’t be so dependent on foreign workers if this initiative can be implemented,” he said.

Meanwhile, schools and colleges have opened up but some teachers and lecturers who went home earlier this year could not return due to the lockdown and closure of borders. Similarly, managers of companies and charter accountants are some of the professional workers who could not return.

Unlike the foreign workers, professionals are fewer in number and they would be allowed indiscriminately at all times in the country, according to Lyonpo.