To address unemployment in the country, an employment responsibility system would be instituted across nine sectors according to the Labour minister Ugyen Dorji.

This was stated at the first Meet The Press yesterday in Thimphu.

Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji said the ministry had two major programmes during the 12th Plan with a total budget of about Nu 2.8 Billion. “One is to transform Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET). The other is the creation of productive and meaningful work.”

He said a major chunk of the budget was allocated to transforming TVET sector, which is about 75 percent of the budget allocated to the ministry.

About 25 percent of the budget would be dedicated to the creation of meaningful and productive employment, he said. “The crux of the overall unemployment problem really is youth unemployment.  All our programmes are designed to address youth unemployment in the country.”

Towards the objective to address unemployment, the ministry was starting from the overall unemployment rate, which stands at 3.1 percent as per Labour Force Survey 2017, which is the latest statistics, he said. “We are targeting to reduce the 12.3 percent youth unemployment rate to nine percent.”

Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji said the approach to address the overall unemployment problem over the five years was a new approach the ministry was adopting.  “The ministry will be instituting employment responsibility system whereby we collaborate with all sectors that we have identified. There are nine sectors wherein the government agencies and sectors come together and take the responsibility of creating a certain number of jobs under each sector.”

The ministry would also work with corporate and state-owned enterprises, he said. “In total, the corporate sector and government agencies are expected to create about 67,000 jobs in the next five years.”

The minimum number of job seekers that was expected to enter the job market was projected to be around 70,000 in five years, he said.  “But we have 11,000 additional jobseekers who have entered this plan period from the last plan period. In total, we are talking about 82,000 job seekers in the market.”

The ministry expects that about 67,000 jobs would be created through coordination and collaboration between public and corporate sectors. “But not all jobs that are created by those agencies will demand our young people,” Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji said.

Therefore, unemployment would not be tackled solely through the approach, he said.

He said that when 50 percent of jobs created in sectors demand young people, it is bound to leave about 38,000 more people looking for jobs.  “Through direct interventions that have been implemented so far and that are being worked out in the current 12th Plan, in addition to the several direct employment schemes, we hope to provide opportunities to the remaining job seekers.”

The plan, he said, was ambitious and that although the ministry would work hard to provide opportunities, there would still be people looking for jobs at the end of the plan period.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that unemployment was not the problem of the labour ministry alone. “All of us need to know this. Other ministries are working just to achieve their mandate and it is not the concern of many ministries and agencies.”

He said the government needed all ministries and agencies to be worrying about unemployment and about creating employment on daily basis. “We are working out a plan so that agencies and ministries are reminded that unemployment is a national issue.”

Lyonchhen said that the unemployment problem couldn’t only be left to the labour ministry. “Of course unemployment cannot be solved overnight. It is a multifactorial issue and so we need multifactorial effort. Starting right from your own homes up to labour ministry. We are targeting everything, agriculture being one.”

He said that they didn’t want to just send a graduate or class XII graduate to the village and ask him or her to work and then call him or her an educated farmer. “This is the reason of mismatch. We send a history and geography student to the field to work when he or she is not actually educated in farming. We want to educate him in farming and then send him to village.”

He said the government gave unemployment the highest attention. “Although we cannot say that 100 percent unemployment will be solved but what we achieve in five years will be one of the best achievements.”

Rinchen Zangmo