MoLHR survey plumbs the depths of youth unemployment

An analysis of a social malaise that is only set to become bigger

Employment: The level of education alone is not sufficient to secure gainful employment, according to the labour ministry’s “unemployed youth perspective survey, 2014.”

The type of education and skills a jobseeker possesses is equally vital, it states, adding that the existing mismatch between jobseekers and available jobs is not because of the level of education.  Work experience, duration of formal training, interpersonal and communication skills, and the ability to work in a team also attributed for the mismatch.

Conducted for the first time, the survey covered 1,128 unemployed youth between 17-29 years, of which 631 were female.

A labour ministry official said, studies conducted in the past did not fully understand the perceptions of unemployed youth in Bhutan.  The survey was done to gain insights into the nature of youth unemployment.

“Studies in the past were done based on assumptions, which weren’t helpful to understand the jobseekers’ perspective,” the official said. “This survey tried to do an in-depth analysis.”

According to the report, there is a need for balance between the number of general graduates and those with technical qualifications. “Tilting the current imbalance is something that the Ministry of Education, Gross National Happiness Commission, and Ministry of Labour and Human Resources should consider working together on to find a solution,” the report states.

Among those surveyed, only 1.2 percent had master’s degrees or higher, while 48.5 percent held undergraduate degrees.  A little over 36 percent had completed secondary education, while those with class X qualification comprised 12.1 percent.  Youth with only class IX and below education represented 1.2 percent.

Contradicting the findings of the Labour Force Survey 2013, which states that 38 percent of all unemployed is in rural areas, this survey found that just 16 percent youth jobseekers were in rural areas.

In terms of preferred employment sector, 50.3 percent preferred to work for the government, while 32.4 percent preferred public corporations.  A high response rate of 98.8 percent was also a positive indication of the willingness among youth to engage with the government in identifying a solution to youth unemployment, the report stated.

Of the 1,128 youth, 250 were offered jobs but did not accept them.  Some of the reasons they cited were salary, parents’ objection, poor working environment, mismatch with qualification, and location of workplace.

Lack of experience, nepotism and lack of employability skills were the top three reasons youth jobseekers perceived for not getting through an interview.

An overwhelming majority of youth (77.3 percent) preferred desk jobs and associate poor working conditions, low salary, and low social status with non-desk jobs.  Most respondent also chose finance, education, tourism and hospitality, and hydropower as preferred areas of work.

“The challenge is to create a diversity of jobs within these growth sectors (tourism and hydropower) that offer favourable working conditions, security, and stability,” the report stated. “Policies to boost youth employment have to be situated as part of a wider agenda of economic, industrial, and social growth.”

To boost youth employment, the survey recommends “An eight point plan.”

Among others, it recommends integrating an entrepreneurial spirit within education and training curricula; better collaboration between public and private entities to identify the skills needed to drive growth, and to accredit technical and vocational training that involves private sector and CSOs in curriculum development.

By Nirmala Pokhrel

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