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YELP to tackle youth unemployment

The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) will come up with the new a programme called Youth Engagement for Livelihood Programme (YELP) to engage unemployed job seekers who have completed Class X and above.

This means the ministry will do away with Direct Employment Scheme (DES) initiated in the 11th Plan as one of the flagship programmes to reduce youth unemployment in the country.

The DES, a scheme is based on a cost-sharing arrangement where participating private firms and ministry share the cost of the monthly allowance, was put on hold since March 2019. The labour ministry and Gross National Happiness Commission jointly carried out the evaluation.

Even as the evaluation found that the scheme was relevant to national development objectives and played a major role in providing job opportunities to the unemployed, the ministry decided to discontinue the scheme.

The evaluation had recommended that since there were not enough programmes to address youth unemployment, DES was one of the means to tackle the problem.

However, Labour Minister Ugyen Dorji said that DES had to be discontinued but would be continued with an improved and revised version.

“The ministry has decided to give the programme the new name as YELP, which will engage the unemployed youth,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo said the sustainability of DES was one of the biggest challenges facing the government.

“YELP is the outcome of those recommendations in terms of objective, modality, duration, and including sustainability,” Lyonpo said. “We’ll implement and see how it works.”

Lyonpo explained that YELP would be a yearlong programme while DES used to be a two-year programme where the majority of the salary was born by the ministry. “At the heart of change is the question of sustainability and effectiveness.”

With the coming of YELP, businesses, employees and companies should bear the majority of the cost, he said. “It has been designed to lead to employment in a very deliberate, focused and with integrity.”

Under the YELP, there will be two phases: Youth Engagement Programme (YEP) and Direct Employment Programme (DEP) for a six-month duration each. In the YEP, youth will get to engage with the employers for six months to gain experience, skills, and enhance their employability.

“This will allow the employer to know enough about the employee and test their ability. Because a lot of vacancies demand experience, YEP will help build that and, in this phase, they can hop from one company to another but not more than two workplaces,” Lyonpo explained.

After completing six months of YEP, a job seeker will be put in DEP where he or she will be employed, which is like an employment phase in the same company.

“After six months of YEP, we can assume that employers will have much information about the employee and choose to employ them and bear the salary,” Lyonpo said. “For instance, by the end of YEP and DEP, it should not be a problem for the employer to employ the youth because they would know about the jobseeker’s competency and could top up the salary.”

However, in the YEP which will be like an internship, the salary would be either high or low, while in DEP, the salary should not be less than the National Minimum Wage Rate.

The ministry will also have a project-specific programme under the YELP whereby the ministry will focus more on the agriculture and construction sectors and engage youth for two years. “If we require youth to engage in more than a year, we will put them in this project,” Lyonpo said. “We won’t mind paying them more if youth show interest in these sectors.”

YELP is open for young who have passed Class X and above. However, the ministry has capped the age limit to 29.

Yangchen C Rinzin

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