Employment: Of the total 4,765 jobseekers placed under different employment schemes under the Guaranteed Employment Programme (GEP) of the labour ministry, 331 of them had withdrawn from the programmes by end of last month.

According to the ministry, individuals withdrew as a result of better employment opportunities, for further studies, on personal and medical grounds and to pursue overseas prospects at their own expenses.

Those who withdrew from any of the programmes were levied a compensation of 20 percent of the total amount paid by the ministry and another 20 percent to the employer of the total amount paid by the company from the date of recruitment.

Of the 331 who withdrew, 127 have refunded the government, 81 have been waived off on medical grounds and company shut down incidents, while 123 are yet to provide a refund.

Labour officials said that the money refunded by the participants is reimbursed in the GEP fund to be reused for employment under the same programme.

Individuals who withdraw from any of the GEP programmes cannot apply for another programme. Labour officials said that once the individual had agreed to take a job under one of the programmes and signed a tripartite agreement, they are considered employed and accordingly their names are enrolled as employed in the job portal system.

However, officials also said that those participants, who have withdrawn on medical grounds, cases related to shutting down of the company and terminations, whereby the money is refunded to the ministry by the company, are facilitated for other programmes under the ministry.

Meanwhile, since the inception of the GEP in July 2014, 2,612 jobseekers were placed under the Direct Employment Scheme (DES) in various sectors of the country.

DES is a strategic response under GEP to address unemployment and is specifically designed to engage unemployed youth with class X pass and above qualifications.

According to the DES guidelines 2014, the ministry pays a minimum monthly allowance and the employer pays an amount specified in the guidelines, but one, which is not less than the national minimum wage.

Under the programme, the labour ministry bears the monthly allowance of Nu 7,500 for university graduates, Nu 5,250 for class XII graduates, and Nu 3,750 for class X graduates. Employers pay not less than Nu 3,750 a month.

Another scheme under the GEP, the overseas employment programme, has employed 1,359 jobseekers as of November 30. Bhutanese jobseekers are sent abroad to work as teachers, sales associates, retail services, hospitality and tourism sector, beauticians and spa therapists, among others. Individuals are sent to countries like India, Thailand, Japan and the Middle East.

The highest number of jobseekers were sent in September early this year. Some 411 youth comprising both male and female left for training and employment in beauty, hair and spa at the International Institute of Wellness Studies in New Delhi, India.

The third component of the programme, Employment Skills Scheme, has also employed a total of 293 jobseekers. Focused mainly to provide adequate skills development to the jobseekers, the scheme provides trainings in collaboration with recognized training providers within and outside the country.

The scheme is further divided into the Youth Employment Skills and Graduates Skills Programmes.

 Younten Tshedup