Labour: To recognize the qualification of the national workforce, the labour ministry has aligned the minimum wage rate of the workforce to the levels of National Certificate (NC).

The level of NC an individual holds will now determine the minimum wage rate the individual will get. However, the wage rate has remained the same from the last date of revision in September last year when they revised it by about 30 to 35 percent.

The revision was classified into five categories based on various skills in line with the Wage Rate Act 1994. Labour officials, however, said that the classification didn’t recognize the standard or qualification or on what basis they were placed in particular categories.

Labour ministry’s head of quality assurance division, Tandin Dorji, said that in the previous category people with two different levels of NC were categorized in the same level. For example, a NC-2 carpenter and NC-3 carpenter were placed in the same level with the same wage rate.

In the previous system which was revised last year, category I workers, that comprised auto mechanic, carpenter and lharib, got Nu 324 a day while category II workers such as supervisors, blacksmiths and plant operator got Nu 286 a day. Auto electricians, plumbers and linemen were paid Nu 254 a day under category III, and, sweepers, wiremen and sawyers in category IV, received Nu 234 a day. Unskilled workers are paid Nu 215 a day.

The new circular that comes in effect from the beginning of next month categorizes skilled labourers under four main categories based on the level of NC an individual holds.

Holders of the NC-3 level certificate with distinction or with satisfactory work experience of at least two years will get Nu 324 a day which amounts to Nu 9,720 a month. NC-3 holders will get Nu 286 a day while workers with NC-2 certificate will be paid Nu 254 a day. NC-1 certificate holders will get Nu 234 a day.

Irrespective of the type of skills, technical and vocational graduates from various Technical Training Institutes (TTIs) will now be paid based on the NC level they attain during their trainings.

Tandin Dorji said that the need to package the existing wage rate for the technical and vocational graduates in line with the NC level was required to ensure that a person with NC is credible and has quality in delivering his service.

“This is a quality assurance measure, whereby, people with the certificates are recognized for their qualification and quality work,” said Tandin Dorji. “Qualification without recognition is of no use.”

There are over 1,000  technical and vocational graduates with NC level certificates from various institutes in the country. Almost 90 percent of the courses in the six TTIs under the labour ministry accredit graduates with NC-2 and NC-3 level certificates. The two Zorig Chusums, however, doesn’t issue NC.

A system to recognize technical and vocational labourers without a NC level certificate but has been working for a long time in companies also exists. The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) allows for assessment and recognition of the vocational competence gained by workers through hands-on experience in contrast to trainees who acquire their vocational skills and competencies through institution-based training.

Officials said that the RPL system is mainly for those in-service workforces who lack the certificate but are highly experienced.

The national workforce, established in 1960s, is mostly employed by government agencies like Department of Roads and the home ministry for construction, maintenance of road and renovation of dzongs.

Younten Tshedup