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Private sector picks up the slack

Jobs in free enterprise are on the rise, though it remains the last resort of the unemployed

National Human Resource Advisory Series: In contrast to declining employment opportunities in government, public corporations or non-government organisations, job creation in the private sector has been on the rise over the years, according to the recently launched national human resource advisory (HRD) series.

In 2011, there were about 4,000 vacancies in the private sector from 96 vacancies in 2003, states the advisory series released by the labour ministry.  In 2010, there were about 1,900 vacancies available in the private sector.

On the other hand, there were 2,397 vacancies in the government, 1,349 in government-owned corporations and 71 in NGOs in 2011; while in 2010, there were about 4,000 vacancies in all these sectors.

The vacancies were for those holding master’s degree, general and technical graduates, Class XII and X graduates, and illiterates as well.

Officials of the labour ministry’s human resource department said employment in the government sector has reached a saturation point. “Vacancies in the civil service are just created to replace civil servants, who have resigned or retired,” an HRD official said. “The same trend is followed in the public corporations as well. As for NGOs, most being non-profit organisations, they function with just a required manpower.”

But while jobs in the private sector were on the rise, there were very few takers, even from trained graduates from vocational institutes.

For instance, from the list of top 30 occupations, mostly in the construction sector, drawn through the labour net information, only half of them were viable for Bhutanese. “Viable in the sense that Bhutanese were only willing to take up half of the listed occupations,” an HRD official said.

Demand for concrete workers in the construction sector, as of last year-end, was almost 20,000 but most technical graduates were not interested in it.  In the mining sector, demand for semi-skilled workers was about 600, but there were no takers.

More than 21,000 jobseekers expected to enter the labour market every year, and the private sector will be the main sector for employment. “But working conditions needs to be improved in this sector,” the advisory series states.

Occupational health and safety, social security, such as pension and gratuity scheme, human resource development and job stability were the main issues affecting private employees today, HRD officials said.

Private employers say they were approached by the same kind of jobseekers every year. “Only those, who aren’t absorbed anywhere, come to us,” said one. “Their priority is always government jobs. We hardly come across the best manpower.”

During the 11th FYP, about 122,000 jobs will have to be created, the advisory series states.  It includes jobseekers entering the job market after completing the tenth and twelfth standards.

HRD officials said, as of now, there was an excess of information and communication technology graduates compared with the market demand.  Some IT graduates have remained unemployed for two to three years.

The advisory series states that, if the current supply of graduates with business administration, commerce, general arts, IT and BCA continues, there could be a large pool of unemployed graduates.

It suggests that the department of adult and higher education and the royal university of Bhutan review enrollment of students in colleges, both within and outside the country, to avoid unemployment of graduates and under utilisation of human resource.

According to the labour force survey 2012, the labour force participation rate stands at 64.4 percent, with about 329,478 Bhutanese employed in the government, public and private corporations, armed forces, private business, NGOs and agriculture.

By Kinga Dema

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