Sherab Lhamo

While the government is trying to implement programmes for the skilled Bhutanese living abroad to return to the country, there is no clear policy to make them feel welcomed and at ease.

The issue was pointed out during the consultation meeting yesterday.

National Reintegration Programme (NRP) consultation meeting, being held by the Department of Employment and Entrepreneurship (DoEE), Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment, brought this issue to the fore.

The discussion led to working out a modality for placement, referral, and support services for the Bhutan Overseas Returnees, especially from Australia.

To effectively reintegrate individuals returning from the overseas by providing support and assistance and to other vulnerable groups, and ensuring the establishment of sustainable livelihoods for able Bhutanese jobseekers,arrangement is being worked out with the development of a clear policy.

DoEE is cureently facilitating the consultation meeting with the Royal Civil Service Commission, Ministry of Finance, and state-owned enterprises, Druk Holding and Investments (DHI) and DHI companies, Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the private sector, and the associations and Civil Society Organisation Authority and Civil Society Organisations.

NRP is in line with the announcement made by the Prime Minister in the Meet-the-Press session earlier this month on establishing a new office to  streamline the process for returnees by offering guidance on investment opportunities, business setup approvals, and job opportunities, which the DoEE was instructed to take the lead.

DoEE acknowledged challenges faced by returnees in the past, particularly due to lack of information and support in the country. The NRP aims to address these issues by providing comprehensive reintegration programmes.

The consultation was held to find the skills and man-power gaps that can guarantee employment for those that are willing to come back.

A registration portal is being created by the department with a set of questions to collect profiles, interests, expectations, their qualification backgrounds, and how they can contribute to the country when they come back.

The department is currently finalising the portal.

Many Bhutanese who returned from the Middle East saw struggles due to lack of information and support, leading to feelings of isolation; some even leaving Bhutan again.

So, the department implemented a National Reintegration Program (NRP) last year in August.

NRP offers support to a wide range of individuals, including overseas returnees, victims of trafficking, people with disabilities,youths requiring care and support, and those recovering from substance abuse.

By addressing their needs, the programme helps them reintegrate into society and contribute to the country’s development, as one ministry official put it.

The NRP will be similar to that of last year’s, consisting of three components—economic reintegration, psycho-social reintegration, and career guidance and advocacy.

Economic reintegration aims to equip individuals with skills, support them, and provide then with resources to reintegrate into the job market or establish self-employment.

The programme offers skills training, entrepreneurship support, and job placement services.

Individuals can get job training, business guidance, and financial aid to start their own businesses. The programme also helps connect qualified professionals with healthcare jobs.

To find suitable employment, the returness will receive help with applications and job market trends.

Psycho-social reintegration aims to facilitate the successful transition and inclusion of individuals into the society as well it focuses on mental and emotional well-being of the individuals before, during and after transitioning into their society.

The programme will be organising networking events to help them build connections and cultural orientation programmes to ease adaptation.

Community events and volunteering opportunities will be offered to promote social integration and a sense of purpose.

Counselling will be available to address emotional challenges and trauma. They will also be providing well-being training on stress management, self-care, and coping mechanisms.

Career guidance and support services aim to provide individuals with the necessary information and resources to make informed career choices and navigate the labour market effectively.

This programme aims to help citizens explore careers, providing information on job trends and qualifications. Individual counselling helps and assess their strengths and interests.

Counsellors and brochures offering guidance on various career paths will be provided, equipping people with the knowledge to make informed choices and succeed in the job market.

In line with the discussion with different agencies, the NRP will be revised to integrate resigned employees.