To support job-seekers and address the youth unemployment problem, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Employment (MoICE) invested in skilling development and entrepreneurship programmes, anticipating that the increase in skill acquisition would result in gainful employment.
Skills development plan (SDP), basic entrepreneurship course, Build Bhutan project, and youth engagement and livelihood programme (YELP), among others, are the initiatives to make them employable.
These interventions, according to the department of employment and entrepreneurship, are to keep the labour market optimistic and bridge the demand and supply for talent and jobs.
The department in an email response said that the programmes are aimed at absorbing those who are looking for employment and were forced out of jobs by the pandemic, especially from potential employment-generating sectors such as tourism and hospitality.
“The ministry is optimistic that with the various programmes and targeted efforts to prepare our youth to fit into the demands of the labour market, youth unemployment might gradually decrease over the years,” an official from the department said.
The skills development programme, which is now with the education and skills development ministry and the DeSuung skilling programme, is targeted at skilling people to fit into the demands of the job market.
According to the ‘Statistical Yearbook of Bhutan 2022’, the unemployment rate was 4.8 percent for 2021 and the youth unemployment rate was 20.9 percent.
The workforce report 2022 found that about 70 percent of job-seekers, both highly qualified and lowly skilled individuals, actively seek overseas employment.
“Despite the high unemployment rate, as per the report “Digital Jobs in Bhutan: Demand Creation and Future Skilling,” many employers indicate the inability to find employees with the right skills,” it stated.
The National Statistics Bureau’s Bhutan Living Survey 2022 reveals that job creation, among others, topped the list of priority issues.
Of 25,198 job-seekers registered with the ministry from 2018 to June 2022, 8,876 job-seekers have been placed and 4,810 referred with a majority of them employed in government, autonomous and corporate sectors.
The fiscal year of 2021-2022 saw the highest number of job-seekers with 12,682 of which the ministry facilitated to employ 3,741.
The ministry identified 108 training courses under SDP and trained 1,145 job-seekers – 721 male and 424 female – and another 386 job-seekers – 144 male and 242 female – through the village skills development programme since July 2022.
This programme targets to train 8,995 candidates in different skills suited for the economic sectors of which 5,500 job-seekers are expected to be trained in 2022-2023.
The ministry also supported basic entrepreneurship courses for 1,119 SDP graduates and startup training for 1,586 youths of which 166 new startups were established and created 360 jobs.
The Build Bhutan project that ended last year also helped to engage 1,735 youths and train 2,123 youths, helping to establish 54 specialized firms.
From 2019 till December last year, 4,164 youth – 1,576 males and 2,588 females – have been engaged under youth engagement and livelihood programmes in different sectors, including re-engagement of laid-off employees.
The government also sponsored online skilling programmes for 6,843 learners for over 500 different Coursera courses from reputed training institutions and online courses where some participants obtained online certificates and diplomas on skills.
The establishment of the GOWA forum, which provides awareness to job-seekers, employers, and parents on employment and available skilling programmes, has helped to employ over 200 youths.
The ministry also carried out targeted programmes for 132 laid-off employees from the Mountain Hazelnuts Venture and the 515 drayangs in skilling, entrepreneurship, and direct engagement and placement in available vacancies depending on their interests.
The ministry, from July 2021 to December 2022, has also facilitated 2,235 youths – 700 males and 1,535 females – for overseas employment mostly in the Middle East.