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Overseas employment programme makes slow progress

Only about two percent of the total 30,000 jobseekers have been sent abroad so far

MoLHR: One and a half years since the launch of overseas employment programme, the labour ministry and overseas employment agencies have sent 715 jobseekers out of the country for training.

This works out to about two percent of the total 30,000 jobseekers that the ministry promised to send abroad in five years.

The ministry is mandated to send about 6,000 jobseekers out of the country annually for training that will allow them to start a business of their own, besides benefitting the businesses they are already working with.

The government initiated the programme in October 2013 to achieve full employment in the country.  It was also the pledge of the ruling government to create 82,000 jobs by 2018.

Records with the labour ministry’s employment division show that the government has sent about 422 jobseekers to Thailand, India, Israel and Kuwait, among others.

The overseas employment agencies were established, as mandated by the regulation on Bhutanese Overseas Employment Agents Information.

Global Recruitment, an agency that sends young Bhutanese jobseekers to Doha and Qatar has sent 67 Bhutanese graduates to train in the hospitality sector.

About 31 jobseekers were sent by Employ Bhutan to United Arab Emirates.  Tenzu Overseas Employment Agency has sent 13 jobseekers to Malaysia.

The minister of labour and human resources (MoLHR), Ngeema Sangay Tshempo, said it was not as easy seeking jobs abroad.  Lyonpo said that, since youth unemployment had increased to 9.6 percent, overseas employment was necessary for creation of employment opportunities for jobseekers in the country. “As our economic base is very weak, with a GDP of 2.05 percent, the programme has to be implemented cautiously. Youth will be sent to selected countries where workers’ rights are well-protected.”

Lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay said that it was important to encourage foreign investors, who will create jobs for young people in the country. “Until our economy grows sufficiently and can provide enough jobs, it’ll be good for our youth to go outside, gain experience, see the world, save some money, and come back.”

Labour ministry’s media officer, Sonam Choden, said there were demands for skilled workers overseas.  What the country can supply are fresh graduates.

“The ministry is also facing difficulty in gaining access to labour markets in other countries without formal agreements with the government of these countries,” she said.

Almost all the countries have a list of countries from where they can recruit migrant workers, and Bhutan is not listed.  Therefore, it is difficult for the ministry to gain access to their labour markets abroad.

The ministry is currently working to set up a Retail Academy for MH Alshaya company based in Kuwait.

“The training of the first batch of sales executives to be employed by Alshaya company is expected to start from this month or the next month,” Sonam Choden said.

To begin with, 400 jobseekers will be trained and sent to Kuwait in the coming year, and the government will bear the rental charges, besides academic fees.  Based on their performance, the enrolment space for Bhutanese jobseekers will be increased.

The ministry is also working on the implementation of the Korea-Bhutan Association.

“Under this programme, selected candidates will have to undergo a one-year Korean language course in Bhutan. They’ll be sent to Korea for job training for a duration of one year,” said Sonam Choden.

The ministry is looking into the possibilities of sending jobseekers to New Zealand.  It is also in the process of exploring possibilities of an affiliation with Technical and Further Education, an institute based in Australia.

By Thinley Zangmo

 

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