Skilled engineers leave civil service

Career stagnation and poor remuneration attributed for leaving the ministry

HR: Shortage of engineers has always been an issue with the government, but in a new development, the works and human settlement ministry, which employees many engineers is increasingly losing skilled engineers.

Engineers that have acquired skills and experiences over the years are necessary for the ministry to deliver quality services in the ministry tasked to develop and improve basic infrastructure like roads and town development.

The issue was raised during the ministry’s mid-term review on September 10. Qualified and experienced engineers are leaving the department to join private sector particularly from the Department of Roads (DoR), director Karma Galay said.

“They cite reasons such as lack of career growth, especially to become executives, finding greener pastures and lack of training and other opportunities,” he said.

In the last two years, between July 2013 and August 2015, a total of 134 engineers resigned from the ministry. Highest number of engineers, 57 resigned from the department of engineering services (DES), followed by DoR, which lost 53 of its skilled people.

Another 24 of them left the civil service from four thromdes, construction development board (CDB) and the Secretariat.

Chief Human Resource officer of ministry, Pem Tshewang said that on retrospection most of the voluntary resignations of mid to senior level engineer were leaving for greener pastures where remuneration and other monetary benefits was far better than the ministry paid.

A group of engineers also resigned as their masters degree was not recognised by the civil service commission. They were blacklisted for coming back with master’s degree, without a formal approval of the commission as per civil service rule, after going for a PG Diploma to Australia.

Meanwhile, at the review meeting, ministry officials recommended discussing with the Royal Civil Service Commission to allow civil servants with engineering background to become executives and retain them.

Other recommendations include providing better training and other exposure opportunities to engineers, allowing diploma engineering to take up the position of chief engineers and availing scarcity allowance, among others.

However, in last two years the ministry recruited 164 additional engineers. Of that, 78 were sent to dzongkhags, 66 of them joined DoR, 13 joined the DES and seven were recruited in thromdes, CDB and the Secretariat.

For the East-West highway double laning works, another 36 junior road inspectors were recruited.

“We’ve recruited more engineers than we lost but numbers do not matter, skills and experience is what we need,” Pem Tshewang said. He added that more than 70 percent of the 2,673 employees of the ministry are engineers.

At the mid-term review, lyonpo Dorji Choden said that on institutional and human resource capacity, the ministry recently developed a comprehensive job specific training modules for different categories of engineers, technicians and construction managers.

After discussion with RCSC and finance ministry, these trainings have been incorporated as regular annual training to be provided to all engineers and technicians.

Moreover, between February and April, the ministry signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the College of Science and Technology and Chumey Technical Training Institute for conducting short-term trainings.

To ensure that field engineers are trained to keep them updated with technology and science, RCSC has agreed to allocate Nu 100M for technical trainings. So far, the ministry has received Nu 4M.

“We’re working towards establishing an Engineers’ and Architects’ Council,” she said adding that currently a task force is being formed with representation from various agencies.

The task force will formulate a proposal to be submitted to RCSC for review and approval.  The council is expected to professionalise these technical professions.

Prime minister said that retaining skilled engineers is necessary and the issue needs to be discussed further with the civil service commission.

The ministry is also working on requirement of human resource for the 15 new proposed thromdes. More than half of the requirements are expected to be technical staff.

Nirmala Pokhrel

2 replies
  1. Ugyen_Norbu
    Ugyen_Norbu says:

    From my experience, many practicing engineers across various agencies rarely gets the opportunity for capacity building due to various native ‘Bhutanese’ reasons. The RCSC and MoWHS may have to frame a working carrot-stick strategy, assessing engineers’ workload, professional risk etc. vs incentives on the other hand. The current management methodology our government practices is a proven recipe for brain-drain at national level. The professional climate for technical personnel at large is bad enough as it is, and if you are one of those numerous employee in other agencies not directly under MoWHS, the situation darkens ten folds. What can I say, it is almost apocalyptic!!!

    Therefore, I am sure, the whole underprivileged multitude of technical personnel would subscribe to this view I am sharing, and would plea the authorities to nurture and enhance this sorry state affair of ours.

    Thank you.

  2. dtenji
    dtenji says:

    If the one of the reasons for leaving Civil Service bu engineer is a failure to reach executives, it is better to let them go because there is no use for engineering skills if they get placed in executives….

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