Unemployment: a big problem?

Somehow, during the last few weeks I’ve bumped into several young unemployed people. All of them complained that they tried hard, but couldn’t get jobs. Some of them were continuing to aggressively seek work. But some had given up.

I’ve also bumped into two groups of youth who are themselves employed, but are thinking about starting something that would help other young people get jobs. These two groups are unrelated. They don’t know each other. But both groups are so convinced that unemployment is already a major problem that they have decided that they may have to take matters into their own hands.

So is unemployment already a big problem? You tell me. I launched this week’s poll, on unemployment, yesterday.


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  1. Phuntsho says

    i voted not sure but i would like to believe that unemployment isn’t a big problem as of now.

    look at situations in the rural areas. the land is fallow not that people are allowing the soil to regain fertility but because there isn’t enough labour force to cultivate it.

    on the other hand, we import food, vegeatables and fruits from india and elsewhere all year round.

    doesn’t our youth, with their youthful energy, have the potential to change this scenario?

    at least supply our sabji bazar with bhutanese grown organic vegetables through out the year.

    of course the government has a role in it too. provide our youth with low interest loan so that youths interested in agriculture can buy some basic machineries like power tiller and water pumps.

    commercial agriculture is not only the remedy for self-employment but it has also the potential to create employment opportunities for others too.

    • What you mention out there is true but why would you blame the youth. They have a potential to do anything to grow the GDP of our country only reason why they can not do it is because of the level of development in Bhutan brought by you all. Having a fixed mind set and laziness of our people how can you be sure to make youth to do the things you can not. if you take the example of other country which is smaller than our country …they are much much better than every field which our country do not have………..

  2. Easier said than done la PHUNTSHO. I do appreciate your comment that our youth should perhaps take up farming BUT it will certainly not happen la. And quite frankly it is not their fault for not going back to the farms since they are now educated or semi edicated lot. It is the fault of the government (present and past) for not planning aggressively to show the ways for the upcoming youth. The fallow land in the villages is also not anyones fault, it is the governments. Our govt should be able to educate the farmers or facilitate farmers to be on the farm and not migrate to urban areas. Forget unemployment, the urban migration is the single largest problem in Bhutan today. What is our government doing?

    Unemployment is definitely a problem as OL mentioned. We cannot devy that and we cannot ignore it. The concerned organizations are working on it with job fairs etc but it is half hearted and we are certainly not doing it the right way. Jobs need to be created with the government and private sector joining hands. Job fairs are useless without jobs for job seekers. Additionally, there is a mismatch that decision makers need to consider of kid coming out of high schools and seeking jobs. What they learned in school is not applicable in real job scenario and who is responsible for this. Ministry of Education or Ministry of labour- we are lost. I think both are doing in bits and pieces but noth are not committed.

    Private sector – the govt keep saying is the engine of growth and truly it is the hope to resolve unemployment. But alas ! the lip service for private sector is continuing and nothing concrete is shaping up to boost private sector. When is the licensing going to be made easy as promised, when is the so called ONE STOP SHOP going to be introduced, when are the tax incentives coming etc etc. Frustrations are building up among the private sector and the government needs to hear out ASAP so that certain issues/hard pressed issues could be addressed.

    We suggest that the Minister for Economic Affairs conduct a days workshop with the private sector quite similar to what the Prime Minister did but this time let the stake holders talk and you do the listening.

  3. chhimi dorji says

    Simply pointing the fingers to our government will not take us anywhere. As human beings, we need to do what we should for ourselves and stand on our on foot. For instance, as a engineer if i fail to get job in the civil service, it is my responsibility to seek jobs in the private sector or even do some other works to fill my stomach.

    On the other hand, not everyone is smart enough. Then whose responsibility is it at the end? not the parents? not the government and not himself or herself?.. I think it boils down to the need for a common solution.

    1. The state should ensure that there is proper planning of human resources in the society and necessary jobs. The labor ministry already seems to know the number of youth there will be there in the market, expecting for hydro power projects some 7years from now to solve the problem is not good enough. i quote a youth in kuensel “they are talking us of food for tomorrow, when we are hungry today”.. too bad.

    There is a clear mismatch in our society. We have thousands of Indian labors in our construction sector, barbers, sweepers drivers, mechanics and tailors.
    The government needs to only help the private sector in uplifting the dignity of such works. this can be easily done by having mechanized tools. if we have trained technicians working with concrete mixers, pulleys and trucks for our constructions and pay them well. youth will be interested.

    There are atleast 100 Indian barbers and tailors in Thimphu. Train 100 young bhutanese men and women on hair cutting and replace them in a month.. 100 more jobs there.. with pretty decent earnings, Repeats for other districts.. i can think of many other ways.. if only i were the labour minister..

    2. As an individual, i think the youth should know that they cannot expect smooth sailing. life is hard. if they have left their villages they should be prepared for hardships in towns and cities. even in countries like US, if you dont perform and are useless, no one can help you. so be responsible. its not so bad afterall. when thousands of indian labour works in Bhutan and send money home, we cannot say that there are no jobs in Bhutan!!
    Maybe the private contractors should start paying more for bhutanese labours, and in turn they should charge more for their contracts. but someone have to make the move. Perhaps, we could have a new clause in the contract /tender evaluation to ensure ATLEAST 50% bhutanese labour and be prepared to pay higher..

  4. well 3.7 % is not that much of a problem and moreover Bhutan falls under the lowest groups of unemployment as per ILOs standard (less than 5%).
    I am positive that if we have right programmes in place, the number might even be reduced to 0%. I don’t know, i just see so much opportunity in our labour market. The only thing people need is the right skills.

  5. I think ‘Youth Unemployment’ has been recognized as an MDG target needing attention in the next five to six years. It is said to have quadrupled from 2.2% in 1998 to 9.9% in 2007 (in ‘Bhutan’s Progress: Midway to the Millenium Development,’ November 2008 – http://www.undp.org.bt/mdg/MDG_Midway.pdf)

    My own personal view is that the problem has emerged partly because of our expectations to be spoon fed by the government (like free education) and the inability to meet these unrealistic expectations. I think it also has to do with the experiences of local private companies with national employees, the latter having shown poor performance as compared to non national employees. I agree with Chhimi Dorji that it doesn’t really have to do with lack of jobs. Lack of skills, as tchoden points out, could be another possible factor (according to Bhutan’s Labour Market study conducted by REC – http://www.rec.org.bt/formdownload.htm).

    I often wonder about ‘career guidance and counselling’ in our schools. How well are our children (and their parents) guided in their choice of courses in their preparation for their future career? And, are there really enough options to choose from?

    I feel the youth of wealthy parents could be supported by their parents in self employment. The question is: Do they?

    And, what about those of poor parents (of mostly rural areas), who are actually waiting for them to earn so that they can get a share of their income? This is the major problem. How do we encourage the unemployed youth to stay back in their villages and initiate something that’ll generate income? Is there a market for them? Can we be optimistic?

    Or, are we expecting the youth to remain in the villages as ‘self sufficient farmers,’ like their predecessors? I would think we have to do more than the usual business of farming to even satisfy our basic needs of food, clothing and shelter in the modern context. And, perhaps individual happiness is ‘partly’ dependent on how we satisfy these basic needs. From this perspective then, unemployment is surely a problem and likely to increase owing to the persistent rural urban migration, slow development of technology in farming and limited marketing opportunities in rural areas.

  6. Thank you for posting my earlier comment.

    I wish to add that in the 2007 Bhutan Living Standard Survey Report (http://www.undp.org.bt/publications.htm) what I found very interesting about the reasons for unemployment are the following:

    • That majority (60.6%) of the unemployed were unemployed because of ‘personal problems,’ for both male and female and in both urban and rural areas

    • It was more prominent for urban areas than rural areas

    • However, for the male this reason was mainly among the age group 15-24, in both urban and rural areas

    • Whereas, for the female, it was more or less equally true across ages 15 to 54, in both urban and rural areas but of greater significance in urban areas than in rural areas

    I thought this was interesting for several reasons, as follows:

    1. First, that it makes you wonder why we have the general tendency to blame the government for unemployment

    2. Second, that it appears our female are restricted by something much more serious or complicated than the male

    3. Third, that our gender equality could be questionable

    4. Fourth, that the urban female appear more disadvantaged than the rural female (in contrast to our usual claim of disadvantaged groups or communities more a rural phenomenon)

  7. regading unemployment, it is a very serious problem. finding a job is very difficult now. i’m a youth and still finding a job. i’ve been in job markte for almost a year and still i wonder where can i find a job. sometimes i get the thinking what kind of employees does the employers wants. if you look into the newspapers, you will see job vacancy but experience needed. when you don’t get a job you don’t have experience. and for the experience you don’t get a job.
    we are traped in between. but we hope for the best…

  8. Sangay Rinchen says

    unemployment has/had been a big problem to many of us, my friends and my relatives. its the mother of so many social illness in our country. it has even become the stress and burden to our students in the school that are yet to enter into the labour market and also our old parents back at home.

    on the other hand there are mnay innitiatives people and youth who are unemployed and are concerned. but the todays story is different. i m employed but seriousely concerned about this issue. i only have an excperience of three years service in the government, i m also only a high school graduate and a diploma holder in my profession as agriculture extension officer. and i work here in thimphu, the Capital.

    me and my friend have innitaited a Youth group so called – Happy Valley Youth Cooperative. its now we say a group i.e GNH in practice. this group is formed by 30 unemployed youth and are working torard a very promossing business ranging from Happy Vallry entertainment, HV food and drinks, HV designs, HV farm produce, HV travels and also in the future towards HV transportation and airlines, HV resorts and recreations and HV radio and TV stations.

    And the question still is not clear to me whether unemployment is a problem or not. cos unless there is no problems there shall never come an innitiatives and solutions that are sometimes very nobel. for instance if world war 2nd had not been fought the so called a magic fertilizers have never been discovered and we human races have been disappeared long time back.

    therfore sometimes we should look unemployment as an opporturnity rather trhan a BIG PROBLEM…provided there are enough supports from Government and concern agencies and yes some nobel individual in the society.

  9. Fallen angel says

    we can’t blame anyone for this raising issue. As Mr. Chhimi Dorji pointed out “we need to do what we need do for ourselves.” If we keep on pointing faulty fingers to other no help will come. It is “Me” who can help myself.We are educated humanbeings. We have the ability to do what we want to do. So instead of blaming govt or people around us…why dont we try every possible way to get ourselves on the feet???
    Ya….there is problem of bias everywhere in Bhutan. You have the background…..you got the job. So this tells us something. Instead of complaining why don’t we be more competitive and hardworking.GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELPS THEMSELVES…..RIGHT???

  10. ugyen dorji says

    i think bhutan govt should do some thing for unemployment

  11. I think there is not much problem if our government and private co. don’t go for the job experience and recruit in the job and replace the older once

  12. unemployment is not a big problem………..the problem with our youth is that they do not wish to do blue-collar job..

  13. the problem is with the government. they tend to develop only the places where development had already given its way.people migrate from rural and remote areas to towns in search of works but at last they live with no jobs and creating crimes in the streets. so government should develop the places where the priority of development is not given. to mention, places like trongsa, gasa, trashigang, trashi yangtse, dagana and pema gatsel, zhemgang are least developed. people from these regions move to western dzongkhags in seach of jobs. government also should implement other ways to reduce unemployment……….good luck

  14. D major chunk of unemployed populace in d country includes d graduates. The courses they are taught and d skills required in d job market is a total paradox.
    the techinal gradutaes are absorbed in one or another firm in d country but d major concern lies for d general graduates of Taktse, RTC, Gedu and Sherubtse, yearly d graduate numbers multiply but d personna required in d jobs is diminishing.
    Rcsc is d only salvation path for them which also sees jst 36 of them being absorbed in government sectors. Nepotism is at its peak in the country. A person frm poor economic ground wud b left out.
    D government of bhutan encourages entrepreneurship programs and other hard labor activities. If such is an issue, there is no point in studying for 16/17 yrs.
    D government may say there are overseas employment but i believe that is jst for a time being. Wat about them after they return wil they b abosrbed in d internal firms of the country?
    We cannot deny d fact that government has generated employment opportunities in past yrs but dat generated employment basically includes d jachung security and d low status, low paying jobs. No garfiates wud b interested in such jobs. An educational career for 16 yrs n a salary of jst 8-10 thousands…that is definitely going to happen. World is not a fairyland, its a place of constant change n hardships. Sustainance with such income wud b a living night mare for them. I think d government shud address d issue differently rather than talking abt TTI, VTI, Jachung security which is beyond d expectation and undeserving option for them.

  15. unemployment problem its not a bigger concern for me though its not government fault too but its the individuals ability to cope with the environment and all you have to do is to do anything with love and passion either in offices or farm so success will follow you so that’s what i believe although i am only 19.

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