The National Graduate Orientation Program (NGOP) would be upgraded to National Service Programme starting this year.

To this effect, a budget of Nu 252M has been earmarked in the 2019-20 annual budget with the labour ministry.

While presenting the annual budget, eminent member of National Council Karma Tshering questioned the finance minister on the intent, risks and benefits that would surface from the shift in policy.

For the policy to be effective, he said the duration of national service programme should stretch between six months to a year in contrast to a week’s orientation programme. He said that because of the duration, there are chances that graduates would miss out employment opportunities.

He also added that the Driglam Namzha programme held during the NGOP proved useful for those who have studied abroad.

Finance minister Namgay Tshering said that the Cabinet has approved the proposal after the labour ministry presented a detailed strategy paper twice.

As per the budget report, the programme is designed to instil volunteerism and enable young graduates to understand national issues, experience ground realities and learn about government machinery.

Lyonpo said that National Service Programme existed in the past but was discontinued as the number of graduates increased. “It is an expensive affair but important to prepare our graduates to take up responsibility immediately after employment,” he said.

Most graduates, he said are unaware of government machinery, bureaucratic procedures and situation in rural communities, among others.

“A degree certificate is not enough. Skills and experience are equally important to make our graduates employable,” lyonpo said.

If duration is a concern, he informed that the option to undergo the service would be left open for the graduates. The strategy paper, he added was drafted based on international best practices.

While the details of the programme were discussed, it was the government’s pledge to reintroduce one-year national service programme for all graduates to gain experience, understand national issues and plan careers.

Tshering Dorji