Labour and Human Resources Minister Ngeema Sangay Tshempo has said that the ministry will rethink the idea of sending Bhutanese youth to work in business process outsourcing (BPO) companies abroad.

The minister made this statement at the Meet the Press yesterday in the wake of many Bhutanese who had gone to India through the overseas guaranteed employment programme returning home prematurely.

The government sponsors the training and placement of selected candidates under the overseas guaranteed employment programme.

The minister said that the ministry has asked Alfresco Solutions LLP, the India-based recruitment consultancy company, to submit a report. “The first thing we do is stop the payment to the company,” he said, adding that the ministry will not pay the full amount if the terms of the contract are not fully implemented.

He added that while some have returned, others are still working in Gurgaon, Noida, and New Delhi.

The minister said that on the night of October 12, he received an email from some of the Bhutanese youths in India who appraised him about the issue. “I replied the email immediately and called them in the first hour of the morning. This is how we are taking care of our youths who are working overseas.”

The minister said that the ministry has designed a re-integration programme for those coming back due to contract failure. The ministry, he said, would take back the youths if they are in a genuine problem and deploy them to other places where they can find suitable jobs.

The labour minister said that only 16 have reported to the ministry although the youth claim that about 30 have come back. Five have agreed to go to Kuwait. “We have already agreed to send them for jobs in big hotels.”

The minister said that the overseas employment programme in general was as a success. He cited the high level of competence required for working in BPO companies for the failure in this particular case.

“Some of the prospective employers rejected our candidates as they did not meet the expectations of companies. Those who cannot compete will be taken back and redeployed in other places where they are employable.”

He added that the ministry would also help those who want to get redeployed in new companies and stay back in India. “The Alfresco Solutions LLP failed to comply with the agreement,” he said.

The candidates were supposed to get INR 15,000 excluding food, lodging and transport facilities but they were given just about INR 12,000.

The ministry started the overseas employment programme in 2013. The labour minister acknowledged that there are “some hitches somewhere” which he said the ministry is trying to fix.

The ministry had sent a total of 150 candidates in two batches – 64 in the first batch in January this year and 86 in April in the care of the Indian company.

The minister said that the candidates needed strong communication skills and IT skills to be employed.

MB Subba