Labour pains of another kind

Yearender/Employment: It was a laborious year for the Horse, as it saw the unemployment rate leap from 2.1 percent to 2.9 percent.  Youth unemployment rate also saw an increase from 7.3 percent to 9.6 percent in just one year.

The unemployment figure rose despite numerous efforts and promises to create jobs.  Towards the end of the year, the labour ministry, through their job portal, gave employment to about 4,471 jobseekers out of 8,425 registered jobseekers.  A total of 8,686 registered jobseekers were spread across the country last year.

The ministry also promised to give extra focus to female unemployed youth, and an agreement was signed with lyonchhoen to improve the working environment in the private sector.

By mid-year, the system of providing stipend to interns resumed, which was stopped from mid-March after the ministry ran out of budget.  As of October 2013, of the 1,961 interns, 1,385 were university graduates.

Although new initiatives were rolled out to address unemployment and create jobs, mismatch of jobs available and skills on offer continued to confront jobseekers in the country.

 

To provide employment opportunities, the labour ministry in June launched the guaranteed employment program (GEP).  Around Nu 3.19M was spent on the first batch of 665 youth under the program.

About 407 jobs were offered to class X graduates, and 140 to university graduates.  The rest went to class XII graduates.

Under GEP, the labour ministry will bear the monthly allowances of Nu 7,500 for university graduates, Nu 5,250 for class XII graduates, and Nu 3,750 for class X graduates.

Employers will not pay less than Nu 3,750 in a month.

However, jobseekers had reservations about GEP when it started, and even the opposition members expressed the need for more serious programs to reduce the increasing unemployment rate.

In what was expected to be another vital step towards addressing the unemployment problem, the ministry launched the National Employment Policy 2013 in July.

The policy recommended the involvement of local government and dzongkhags in their areas to create job opportunities, a shared responsibility.

A total of 3,304 new graduates sat for the preliminary examinations, which the government had pledged to do away with.

But amid all the employment opportunities that the government claimed to have created, the country still has about 9,886 people unemployed, which brought the unemployment rate to 2.9 percent.

As of last year, the labour ministry has sent 290 jobseekers abroad through the overseas employment program.

The government initiated the overseas employment program to attain full employment status, as pledged by the government, for which 82,000 jobs have to be created by 2018.

Under the overseas employment program, 30,000 jobseekers are to be sent abroad.

Two months after the ministry launched the GEP, only about 367 jobseekers were placed.  The ministry had floated 1,312 vacancies.

Labour officials cited that jobseekers were not serious about job vacancies, while job seekers said they were waiting for the ministry to call.

The horse year ended with jobseekers, both old and new graduates, still waiting for employment.

Thinley Zangmo

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