MAIN STORY: Landing a job is increasingly becoming difficult. Degrees don’t help you get comfortable, well-paying jobs anymore.
Jobseekers submit application everywhere, regardless of their qualification and nature of available job. Many approach office for internship with a hope to get employed someday. The number of jobseekers will only grow after civil service examinations.
Jigme Tashi, an IT graduate from Royal Institute of Management, was busy working in a private firm when more than 2,500 graduates were attending national graduate orientation programme at Simtokha in Thimphu last week. The 23 year-old has been interning at Bhutan Jobs, a private employment agency, for more than three months. He has been assisting the agency with IT-related work.
Sitting inside a makeshift office with a table in one corner, surrounded by four wooden chairs, Jigme Tashi works with three other interns. For him, internship was a better option than looking for job vacancies advertised in media.
Jigme Tashi went to the labour ministry and found out that with a nominal salary he could do his internship at a private firm. That was how he landed up at Bhutan Jobs.
“Like many, I wanted to gain some job experience through the internship programme,” Jigme Tashi said. “I didn’t have any idea what getting employed would entail. After I started interning, I picked up many IT-related skills. Now I am confident that I will fare better if I ever get a chance to sit a job interview.”
These days, every office demand job experience. That is why doing internship has become crucial for jobseekers.
“Frankly, we don’t have any other choice but to intern so that we are fit for certain employers,” said Jigme Tashi.
According to labour ministry figures, there were a total of 1,328 graduates under University Graduate Internship Programme (UGIP) and 883 jobseekers with X and XII pass certificate under Pre-Engagement Employment Programme (PEEP) between July 1, 2014 and August 31, 2015.
The interns are paid Nu 3,750 at the end of the month for a three-month contract period with the labour ministry. The recruiting agency doesn’t pay the interns.
The interns are placed in various government offices, corporations, private firms and non-government offices in the country. The four regional labour offices and head office in Thimphu placed the interns at various offices.
To gain meaningful job experience through the internship programme, Jigme Tashi pays a hefty price. He travels to office from Namseling everyday. He bears his own expenses.
“I travel by bus or taxi, which gets expensive as the days go by,” Jigme Tashi. “It would really help if the recruiting also pay the interns a nominal salary.”
The firm in which Jigme Tashi works has extended his internship because he is dedicated and works hard.
As one tries to step into the world of work, there are many pressures associated with it. While there are jobseekers who intern at the offices and organisations, there are others who stay at home burdened under a lot of pressure.
Sonam Lhamo, 21, completed Class XII last year. She couldn’t continue her studies due to health problems. She has been on a lookout for a job or an internship opportunity since then.
“My parents are farmers and they have invested a lot in my education,” Sonam Lhamo said. “It’s a sad reality for them to know that their daughter can’t even land a job or an internship. My parents are supportive but I still feel pressurised because I feel guilty.”
Parents worry that without a stable job their children might not be able to be independent. So they tell their children to intern somewhere that would help them find employment in the future. There is a growing pressure on both sides.
Jobseekers are now having also to upgrade their qualification to land a good-paying job.
Khandu Dorji, 24, is a graduate from Gaeddu College of Business Studies. He has been interning at one of the corporate offices in Thimphu for about a year. He is now planning to go for further studies.
“Specialising in a subject might give me an added advantage to find a job,” Khandu Dorji said. “I have gained some job experience through the internship programmes. I hope I will be able to land a good job after completing my studies.”
But Khandu Dorji wants to give a final shot at the civil service examination in hopes of landing a job in the government. If he gets selected, he won’t have to go for further studies.“I don’t have to struggle if I land a job in a government office because government jobs are secure. I am under a lot of stress right now.”
It’s the failure to land a job even after doing internship for a year that let Khandu Dorji to explore other options. “And often, if someone gets a job somewhere, the person will have to know someone at the office.”
But there are others like Sonam Penjor, a graduate from India, who is considering doing something on his own.
“I feel interning is a waste of time if one didn’t land up a job at the office,” Sonam Penjor said. “Starting a small business of my own seems like a far better option at this stage of my life.”
Sonam Penjor hopes that the path he’s going to take will be far more successful than waiting for job fair, vacancies or internship opportunities.
By Thinley Zangmo