Labour ministry seeks to half job creation target

Yangchen C Rinzin 

The ministry of labour and human resources sought to reduce its target for job creation from 52,930 to 26,609 jobs during the 12th Plan mid-term review on April 16. 

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, who chaired the midterm review, questioned the ministry if it was mandated to create jobs in the first place and asked for a proper definition of “job created”.

“What do you mean when you say job created?” he said. “Whether the ministry created a job but nobody is keen on taking up that job or does it mean the ministry really employed so many? Or does the target mean the ministry created the jobs in different sectors?” 

Lyonchhen reminded of  ministry that pandemic would end someday and that when it does there would be economic and employment issues, which was why it was important to ensure the current skills were enhanced and training revamped if necessary. 

Labour Secretary Sonam Wangchuk said that since employment is everyone’s responsibility and the ministry alone cannot create jobs, respective sectors should submit a list of the numbers of jobs they could create. “So, the target set was as per the lists collected from nine sectors. The intention was to make other sectors responsible in creating jobs.”

However, the ministry was asked to study the target again by discussing with different sectors on what jobs are available and what jobs can they create instead of dropping the target. 

The ministry also requested Lyonchhen to revise the target like ‘job created through new business startups’ from 2,811 to 432. The target to establish new startup businesses was proposed to be dropped to 144 from 864, and reduce youth from 5,045 to 1,320 in the youth trained in entrepreneurship development programmes.

The secretary said that some of these targets were in the Startup and CSI Flagship programme blueprint. 

Lyonchhen asked the ministry to justify what nature of jobs was created through new business. 

“It’s still unclear how many exactly jobseekers we have and for labour ministry, they should have such details when asked any time,” Lyonchhen said. “Then the information on how many can the ministry employ.”

The ministry is also studying if it should continue with the overseas employment programme. 

Lyonchhen appointed out the need for an exhaustive database of jobseekers. 

The ministry in the 12th Plan has also targeted to study the creation of employment agency for construction sector, establishing Bhutan Qualification Authority, the development of foreign workers’ management strategy, and the implementation of the National Skills Development programme. 

The ministry engaged 633 workers through Build Bhutan Project and the majority of them are unskilled workers (309), followed by masons, and carpenters. A total of 712 were engaged in skilling and 36 specialised firms were established.

The ministry also proposed a revised budget outlay of Nu 500 million for the project.

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