Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Bhutan : Keeping abreast of the unemployment problem

23 June, 2009 - Demand for all forms of labour from employing agencies is expected to drop by almost 80 percent by 2012, says the first establishment census carried out by the ministry of labour and human resources (MoLHR).

The 2008 census was done to capture the number of existing establishments and their potential to provide employment opportunities to the increasing number of youth. It collected data from 7,162 private sector establishments, government agencies, corporations, joint ventures and FDI companies.

Only 4,962 organisations of the total 7,162 have plans to expand, according to the census. The remaining 2,200 establishments, about 31 percent, do not have plans to expand because of credit constraints, lack of demand for goods and services and shortage of skilled labour.

This means unemployment rates are expected to rise, states the study. "The census results would abreast us on the problems affecting the growth of business and employment," said the statistical officer of MoLHR Ugyen Tenzin. "Unemployment rates are expected to rise, but by how much I can’t say for sure."

The study also pointed out that, of the 38,066 existing employees in private sectors and corporations, 29,759 were Bhutanese and 8,307 foreigners. For every 100 Bhutanese employees, there are 28 foreigners working in private and corporations, although this excludes the expatriate workers in Dantak and GREF and the day workers across the borders, said the report.

The study however did not include upcoming establishments. The data was collected from various sectors in all the 20 dzongkhags, but it excluded places like Merak and Sakten in Trashigang, and Lingzhi, Soe, Naro.

Bhutan’s unemployment rate for those above 15 years of age has increased from 1.8 percent in 2003 to 3.7 percent in 2007.

The highest number of unemployed was for females, 3,200 between the ages of 15-24 in urban areas. There are 3,100 unemployed males.

Job fairs, vocational education training, and the introduction of internship programs at the zorig chusum institutes were some of the measures the labour ministry initiated to tackle unemployment.

Labour officials said that the census was only a start in providing crucial information to address youth unemployment. "The census is designed to collect timely data on labour market on which important decisions would be based," said an official.

By Phuntsho Namgay


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