A 21-year-old with Autism Spectrum Disorder learning film editing in Thimphu signals possibilities beyond our fixed thinking and acceptance.

It also indicates that skills development for livelihood, economic empowerment, and social development must be contextually relevant to those receiving it, mindful of their capacities and circumstances.

Scanning the spectrum of marketable and employable skills, as they are called, provided up until now reveals a lack of understanding and imagination among those providing it, and a lack of choice for those taking it.

Whether for unemployed youth, incarcerated youth, marginalized women, people with disabilities, children and youth with disabilities, or the economic empowerment of rural communities, the marketable and employment-generating skills being imparted are limited to embroidery, tailoring, traditional painting, doll-making, souvenir making, bamboo crafts, baking, hair-cutting, salon, and such trades.

It is relevant for some, and as a testimony, they have successfully established a career around it and become empowered. But for many, they simply remain invisible once the training is completed, unable to break the barriers that hold them back. 

Though a cumulative figure is lacking, it is safe to assume that the government, non-government organisations, and donor communities in the country have trained and produced hundreds of barbers, bakers, tailors, doll and souvenir makers, masseurs and beauticians, painters and sculptors, cane and bamboo craftsmen, and farmers, including dairy farmers.

However, for some, their productivity and consequently success could be tied to opportunities in IT and technology-based services, such as app developers, audio-visual editors, filmmakers, Information Technology technicians, mobile phone and household electronic repair and service providers, designers, photographers, videographers, YouTubers, vloggers, actors, models, comedians, artists, musicians, athletes—the list goes on, and so do possibilities.

Given the current rising concerns about Climate Change, we also need Green Entrepreneurs.

As a transforming society, we must secure an enabling environment that supports fulfilling the diverse hopes and aspirations of all our people. In doing so, we must stop limiting their potential by influencing their decisions on specific professions and roles in society.