The overseas employment programme and the outsourcing of short-term training programmes outside the country have severely affected their business, according to owners of private training institutes.

One of the members of National Assembly’s economic and finance committee, Dorji Wangdi, who met with representatives from local training providers on February 18 at the MPs office, said he was told that the problem existed since 2013 and that they fear that the situation would worsen if the issue were not addressed.

The representatives, according Dorji Wangdi, were of the view that government policies have been inconsistent over the past years due to changes in the government. He was told that the government’s decision to allow Indian nationals to compete with local training providers had affected their business.

“I advised them to hold a meeting among themselves and come up with a joint view, to which they agreed,” Dorji Wangdi said. The committee would submit a report to the government if it finds the issue deserves government’s attention.

One of the representatives, Chen Chen Dorji, from Rigsum Institute of Technical Education and Management Studies told Kuensel that most of the private training institutes are on the brink of closure.

Lack of recognition for certificates from local private institutes, he said, has also made them less attractive to youth. He said the RIM should conduct high-end trainings while short-term trainings should be left for the private training institutes.

Chen Chen Dorji said the trainings provided by local firms were better than those provided abroad. “We can provide the same trainings at a lower cost here,” he said.

The representatives were from Ugyen International Language and Culture Training Institute; Advanced Institute of Tourism; Institute of Professional studies; Bhutan Institute of International Language; and Rigsum Institute of Technical Education and Management Studies.

There are about 112 labour ministry-approved training providers in the country.

Labour minister Ugyen Dorji said that the objective of establishing training institutes should not be for the purpose of mere survival and that quality and standards were important aspects. He said the credentials and reputation of local firms could be one of the reasons for their inability to attract candidates.

“The government will work with the private sector, including the training providers, during the 12th Plan for implementation of TVET programmes. I reiterate that there should be quality and standards in our programmes,” he said.

However, Chen Chen Dorji said that double standards in government policies were also responsible for their plight. “Despite our trainings being approved by the department of occupational standards, government agencies and most corporations ask for certificates from the Royal Institute of Management (RIM) only,” he said.

Local training providers said there should be a policy in place so that private institutes are preferred over foreign training providers for trainings of civil servants and other candidates, and their certificates recognised by government agencies.

With the labour ministry’s efforts to make school and college graduates employable, the number of short-term trainings provided within the country was expected to increase. During the past few years, the labour ministry funded several training programmes under the guaranteed employment programmes.

However, local training providers say they were unable to reap the benefit of the increase in number of government-funded training programmes. Local training providers blame competition from India-based companies.

Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji said that no new trainings are provided under the guaranteed employment programme since the 12th Plan has not allocated funds for the programme.

The private training providers also say that they were disqualified to bid for trainings under the guaranteed employment programme on grounds of non-fulfillment of criteria. They say they were certified as training providers when their licenses were issued.

MB Subba