Besides the owners, he met with the 97 people employed there through the GEP

Employment: Immigration issues and the need for skill enhancement programme for mechanics were raised when the labour minister visited the automobile workshops at Olakha, Thimphu yesterday.

Labour minister Ngeema Sangay Tshempo and officials from the ministry met with the 97 people, who were employed through the Guaranteed Employment Programme (GEP) in 2014 and their employers to discuss issues that they felt needed attention.

One of the workshop owners said that the renewal of permit for foreign workers every six months was getting difficult. “Workers go back home and never return,” he said. “We lose time and skilled labourers that way.”

The lack of skills among mechanics to maintain or repair imported cars should be made available, the automobile workshop owners said.

Some owners also suggested that, if the ministry could provide some technical allowance to those working in the industry, the profession could become attractive and pull in more youth.

One of the workers said there was a mismatch between the work they do in the workshop and what they are taught in their vocational trainings.  To this, lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tshempo said that the ministry would look into it and see what changes they could bring in the curriculum of the training institutes.  More on-the-job-trainings would also be provided, lyonpo said, adding that the ministry would look into addressing the issues raised.  Lyonpo informed the workers that the ministry was currently looking for resources to procure safety gear for the workers.

Lyonpo congratulated the workers at the automobile workshops for their dedication towards their profession and spoke on the importance of dignity of labour. “Start small and make your way forward through hard work,” lyonpo said. “If you have good knowledge in electrical and plumbing, then there’s no way you stay unemployed

Since the initiation of the GEP programme in June last year, the ministry has helped 1,121 individuals find employment in similar places.  Of the total, 97 are placed in Thimphu including four females, who work as mechanics at the Olakha automobile workshop.

By Younten Tshedup