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Need to tackle urban unemployment

Although youth unemployment has come down to 10.6 percent from 13.2 percent, the improvement does not necessarily point to a commendable achievement. In the period of more than ten years, the percentage of youth unemployment has been thereabout more or less.

On foot of our failure to deal with the many challenges that contribute to growing unemployment among young people, the problem is now poised to become even more challenging. Bigger population centres are already witnessing rise in unemployment rate. Population and Housing Census of Bhutan 2017 saw Thimphu’s unemployment rate grow to 5.4 percent.

In the coming years, the biggest challenge for the government will be to deal with urban unemployment and poverty the consequences of which can show in different forms and dimensions.

Rural to urban migration at 21.7 percent is staggering and is likely to increase in the coming years while we continue to dawdle without appropriate intervention. The educated young do not see agriculture sector, which employs close to 50 percent of the population, as prospective employer. Drying water sources and increasing human-wildlife conflict are among the contributing factors which have given rise to fallowing of land.

Continuing neglect of the role of agriculture in employment generation will only worsen youth and urban unemployment. The danger of not tackling this problem early on is that it could have serious long-term consequences on the health of the society. Young unemployed people after a long time resort to wrong ways of eking out a living. The hardship and stress compel them to depend on drugs and alcohol which contribute naturally to increased crime rates in the society.

Records with police show that crimes in the city can be linked directly to unemployed youth. Mental and physical burden on the unemployed young could be costly for the nation. Already suicide among the young is among the major issues that we are grappling with.

This unemployment shift requires our politicians and lawmakers to set in train appropriate and urgent interventions. The sooner it is done, the better.

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