Bhutan is a small developing country with small population of approximately about 7 lakhs. The developmental philosophy is Gross National Happiness (GNH) which has gained so many worldwide appreciation and praise. But on the other hand, like any other developing or developed countries, Bhutan has its own share of problems and challenges. Youth unemployment problem is one of the most challenging one that Bhutan is facing and we can’t really afford to stand and stare this exponential growth each passing day. With the development of a people, society and country at large, youth unemployment is becoming a major problem which affects not only individuals, but also the society in every region. And to solve this problem, it is not only the sole responsibility of a government or agencies, non-governmental organizations or private companies or corporations, but a collective responsibility. All must go together hand in hand. Otherwise it would be too far from realizing it and the concept of GNH would be so challenging a task to be achieved. There are various factors that directly or indirectly lead to the problem of youth unemployment in any country.
Unemployment problem can be caused by the lack of necessary and required skill in a relevant field, the mismatch of the job and this is the most determining factor in our country. Every thousands of students from middle and higher secondary schools across the country and graduates from universities both within and outside the country are produced. But what is sad is the inability to absorb these passed out youths because of the mismatch of what they learned and what is required by the employer. This is the major cause of concern for Bhutan government and Bhutanese people. With number of students increasing every year, the problem will only keep soaring unless certain measures are taken care at hand.
It is so obvious to see that young people without a job for long time may probably endanger the very stability and sovereignty of a society and nation as a whole. Youths are always filled with enthusiasm and burning desire with righteous ardor. They need a suitable career to realize their dreams and aspirations. Without a decent job, a proper guidance or engagement, our youths may resort and attribute to so many social problems and lead them to embark the path of degeneration and crimes. Youth unemployment is also an unseen waste of talents and resources. Our dynamic and farsighted kings have always emphasized the importance of youths and youngsters in nation building and that they are the future of a nation, but what a waste it is when number of university graduates sits around all day long roaming the streets, gambling and has no decent career to develop, let alone seek his or her dreams.
To bring our youth to a bright future, our schools, government and youth we have our own chunk of responsibilities. The government must make sure and initiate that the universities and colleges across the country present an appropriate course (the syllabus) that is associated with relevant work experience after the completion of studies. Any company or an employer will never refuse to recruit an individual with sound knowledge of the work with fund of interest and enthusiasms. The companies and the agencies have the responsibility to offer job opportunities with deserving emoluments and rewards. And the youth themselves in turn has to do their best to become qualified and capable. There is no question that a position will be rejected if one has the most suitable talent and capability.
Rural-Urban migration is another most prominent factor that causes the youth employment problem in our country. Bhutan is still developing country, an aid dependent country and not all parts of the country are accessible to better modern facilities. People living in the rural areas without basic facilities like road, electricity, safe drinking water become an easy prey to the modern life in urban centers where such facilities are present. Young students leave in the middle of their schoolings to better life in towns and cities. People abandon their happy and secured life at home in villages, which they think are but the hardest, the cruelest and most unfortunate. They migrate to urban areas in search of jobs and better facilities where not everyone is fortunate enough to live up to their dreams leading to not only unemployment problem but also many other social problems like gang fights, drug addiction, flesh trade and even suicidal cases at times.
To mitigate this problem, the government must have a balanced developmental strategies and programs in place; the industries must be set up in designated areas where it can retain people in and around and which can benefit people surrounding it. This is where private sector comes into picture and hence private sector must be empowered and strengthened with certain responsibilities, authority and accountability. Private sector is one of the main engines behind any developmental activities of a country and it must be morally supported and nurtured with proper guidance and regulations.
Corruption and nepotism is yet another factor that has a direct link to unemployment problem. Small and religious country like Bhutan can’t afford to have such incidents because it is too small to deceive and be deceived, where everyone can know each other within small span of time. Corruption and nepotism is the very root creator of the difference between haves and have not’s. But ironically, corruption and nepotism seems to be rampant in our country that every day we hear rumors about recruitments being tainted and disturbed by bigwigs. Such actions deprive the rights of certain sections of society and can hardly progress as compared to those uplifted by some sort of assistance. Hence this must be curbed by legislation of strict rules against corrupted people. As proposed by good governance committee (in national council) in the recent parliament session, the merit-based recruitment and selection process must precede over social connection and there must be a mechanism to fix accountability on heads and human resource officers.
Bhutan may be a tiny Himalayan country, but it is adorned with rich biodiversity and these natural and renewable natural resources must be put into good use. The constitution of the country states 60% of country’s areas to be maintained under forest cover and therefore, maintaining this, the rest must be utilized to a good purpose. The government must come up with various small scale and cottage industries that will absorb and engage number of unemployed individuals. Otherwise what is the use of leaving such resources unutilized and then ultimately giving way to illegal utilization and transactions like the recent one at Paro dzongkhag? Bhutan can also harness various other renewable resources like wind and solar which can be a good alternative towards alleviation of living standards of middle and lower class families, an indirect way to curb unemployment problem.
We have a parent Ministry- the ministry of Labor and Human resources, which coordinate and facilitates an easy outflow of the employment opportunities in the country and which act as a bridge between the employers and the job seekers. A lot of mechanisms and programs are conducted like internship programs to gain experience in a relevant field which is appreciated and which must be continued fairly without fear or favor. There are complains and criticisms about the ineffectiveness of such programs because of the inability of ministry to take action and I am convinced that the ministry has no teeth to really put their efforts to reliable and productive implementation. This must be taken into account with appropriate solutions by the government, morally supported by public as well as the private to further strengthen its capacities with certain legislations and executive authorities to function effectively and independently.
Certain immediate measure like job fairs to sensitize and create awareness about changing the mindset of our youths take interest in blue color jobs, the dignity of labor must be increased an implemented. Certain unconventional methods of earning like betting and gambling which are done secretly in closed doors must be legalized which would reduce the exploitation and increase in taxes. The government must also support civil society organizations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental organization (NGOs) which takes in large number of personnel.
As stated earlier, the youth unemployment problem should not be thought of as an individual problem, it is a national (perhaps global!) problem and everyone must put their head and hands together. The employers should not too strict, seeking only the experienced ones. How can one gain experience without even getting recruited? And the job seekers in turn should not be too choosy and think of only the incentives, because there is nothing as free lunch! One must prove that one is capable and deserving. Otherwise the youth unemployment problem will only aggravate in times to come.
PS: An essay i wrote sometime ago; credit also to Mr. Namgang for relevant help..