KP Sharma

The Department of Labour (DoL) approved a total of 137,324 individuals seeking employment opportunities in 2023 to fulfil the needs of crucial economic sectors. This is according to the 2023 TVET statistic report, 2023.

The increase in approvals for foreign workers highlights a potential gap between labor supply and demand within Bhutan’s local job market.

The majority of these approved individuals, who are foreign workers, were hired in three major sectors: construction, public administration and defense, compulsory social security, and manufacturing.

According to the report, 71.6 percent of the foreign workers were employed in the construction sector, 14.4 percent in public administration and defense, compulsory social security, and 7.4 percent in manufacturing.

The report says that the concentration of foreign workers in construction, public administration, and manufacturing underscores the vital roles these sectors play in Bhutan’s economic growth and development.

On the other hand, there were over 300 approvals in the occupational group. The highest number was for masonry, with 79,201 approvals, followed by 18,298 for concrete workers, 8,132 for carpenters, 5,846 for process workers, and 4,675 for rod binders or sheet metal workers.

These were the top five categories that employed foreign workers in 2023. Impact While the influx of foreign workers addresses immediate labor needs, it also poses challenges for local job seekers and new entrants to the labor market.

In doing so, the report highlights that local employers may exhibit a preference for hiring foreign workers over locals, potentially denying young Bhutanese workers with valuable skills and qualifications of job opportunities.

This situation, labour officials say, could compel skilled individuals to seek employment opportunities abroad, potentially resulting in a brain drain in the country.

The report cautions that heavy reliance on foreign workers may raise concerns regarding worker rights and exploitation. Foreign workers, being more vulnerable, may encounter abuse and mistreatment in the workplace, for example. This underscores the significance of ensuring the protection of all workers, irrespective of their nationality.

While employing foreign workers can provide immediate benefits to Bhutan’s economy, it’s crucial to consider the long-term implications, a local contractor said.