Employment: A Technical and Vocational Education and Trainings (TVET) blueprint has been finalised. However, more needs to be done to make TVET occupations a choice of employment for youth.

Unless employers offer more salaries and wages than what the blue-collar employees are paid today, TVET programmes are less likely to be successful. Low salary is one of the reasons why youth are not attracted to blue-collar jobs.

A 23-year-old school dropout said skilled jobs in Bhutan do not meet the aspirations of young people. Although he is unemployed, he did not go for TVET programmes because of the low salary.

“The salary of a blue-collar worker does not help you graduate from poverty,” he said. “It is not possible to live a decent life with a blue-collar job in Bhutan.”

A corporate employee said people doing blue-collar jobs are paid less than those with office jobs. This, he said, was despite the fact such jobs are hazardous.

“Employers need to pay good salaries to make TVET programmes successful and change people’s perception of blue-collar jobs,” he said.

The government is expected to implement the TVET blueprint soon and the number of TVET graduates is expected to increase. With the increase in supply of TVET graduates the wage could possibly decrease if the government does not put in place a mechanism to monitor it. The blueprint aims to make TVET occupations recognised as a preferred career route for young people. Skills development programmes will be aligned with the country’s economic priorities.

The labour ministry recently held a workshop in Thimphu to finalise the TVET blueprint, where some of the participants cited low wage as one of the reasons for the inability of blue-collar jobs to attract people. The participants said that most skilled jobs were offered on a temporary basis.

At the workshop, the human resources department’s officiating director Sangay Dorji said, “lower social acceptance” was also one of the reasons. He said there is also no accreditation for TVET skills in Bhutan.

The government last year raised the daily minimum wage of workers.

Category I workers that comprise auto mechanic, carpenter and lharib, get Nu 324 a day while category II workers like supervisors, blacksmiths and plant operator get Nu 286 a day.

Auto electricians, plumbers and linemen are paid Nu 254 a day under category III, and, sweepers, wiremen and sawyers who fall in category IV, get Nu 234 a day. Unskilled NWF get Nu 215 a day.

MB Subba