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Old wine in new bottle?

There is another attempt at employing our youth or making them employable. The new programme, Youth Engagement for Livelihood Programme ,or YELP, will engage unemployed youth, those who completed Class X or above.

Employment programmes is the need of the hour. Unemployment is a big problem and it is worse among the youth. Youth unemployment rate today is 15.7 percent. Successive governments have tried many initiatives to employ youth. Unfortunately, the number of unemployed youth kept increasing even as programmes are rolled out.

We had the guaranteed employment programme and direct employment schemes. We tried sending some overseas, near and far. The problem seems to not go away. Perhaps, there is something not right with the programmes.

YELP is born out of the direct employment scheme that couldn’t live up to the expectations of both youth and those behind the programme. Despite the noble intention, employment hardly happened after the government side of the allowance dried up. Employers just took advantage of the salary burden. They paid only half or a percentage. Not many were employed even after the expiry of the term.

YELP is the improved and revised version of the DES. It is good initiative in terms of employers scrutinising the youth or a youth getting some skills and work experience. There are complaints from both sides in the past programmes. Youth were not keen, waiting for a better opportunity, or employers were not bothered because a chunk of the allowance is borne by the government. In the end, nobody benefit.

What we need is a successful programme to ease the pressure on youth, parents and the government. What we also need, besides programmes to employ youth is creating opportunities, creating an environment where youth would want to work without having to go through government programmes.

When we talk about employment, we are not thinking beyond jobs in the towns. There is a risk already. When everybody comes to town in search for jobs, there is a problem. It is then not just a question of providing jobs. It is a question of dealing with the urban drift and a range of social problems.

There are opportunities outside Thimphu. After decades of development, our rural places are no different from Thimphu. We have roads, electricity, internet, almost everything that we didn’t have a decade ago. Why should we want our youth to come to towns for jobs?

The priorities should change if we want to create jobs and provide opportunities. We should have more agriculture loans than housing loans, more blacktopped farm roads instead of resurfacing three four times the highways. We should provide cheap loans or heavy subsidies to farm machineries instead of issuing quotas to buy cars or fund taxis and SUVs.

We cannot give up our hope on making our youth stay and work in the farms. This will happen when there are opportunities. Some are already returning seeing the potential.

A good programme on youth and agriculture sounds more successful to prevent youth from yelping at the unemployment issue.

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