Bhutan has a young population and more than 56% of Bhutanese citizens are under the age of 25. Bhutanese youth face a unique challenge of balancing tradition with modernity. Every year the number of drop outs have increased and Drug and alcohol abuse have become one of Bhutan’s biggest concerns for its youth which leads to unemployment. The youth unemployment rate for Bhutan according to World Bank report was 12.90 in 2009. The result of the 2009 Bhutan Labor Force Survey confirmed that unemployment in Bhutan increased to 4%, with more than 80% of the unemployed between the ages of 15 and 25.
Bhutanese government can encourage private and petty firms to be set up so that more youths will be inclined to work in such jobs which do not require much qualification skills and experience. Firms which sell food items or small grocery shops that plan in keeping young people employed with basic knowledge of calculations and those that are dropouts. Such jobs seem to be fancy and fashionable in nature. For example fast food restaurants like Mac Donald employees are 90% youth and majority of them are college going students. In Bhutan we lack such firms and those that exist fail to provide a regular income or are not at all ready to employ any youth. Firms like housecleaning services can be encouraged which require active manpower and are willing to employ youths with a regular income. Youths will be attracted to such jobs as it does not require much qualification and have some sort of work dignity. This way more youths those that are on holidays and those that are drop-outs can avail to such jobs. Roadside Flower selling and house gardening can be encouraged as they do not require heavy manpower and very less qualification level. Roadside flower selling is favourable in Bhutan because of the presence of good roads and suitable climatic condition and good market for such products.
The government can explore and invest other ways for youth to be employed besides academic qualification. In Bhutan we have very less jobs that are willing to employ youth with less experience and low qualification level. Every job with a regular income either requires qualification and experience and most of the times both. Most of our youths are good athletes and this is evident from annual sports at schools and competitions held at national and international level. Government can provide some amount of incentives and regular allowances for youths who are extremely good at such sports like basketball, football, badminton, table-tennis, swimming and others. In this process youths will be attracted to take up sports as career as some kind of incentives and fringe benefits prevail. While the government at the same time can provide financial help to those that are extremely good in sports and encourage them to continue their studies. The government can establish health and fitness centers that are willing take in youth coaches and trainers who have basic knowledge about body-building and in the process of earning they can also learn. Such jobs will attract youths that have few qualification levels and more of interest in sports and physical education. The Ministry of Education can increase the number of P.E teachers at schools as they require more of athlete spirit than experiences and academic qualification. At the same time the opportunity to attain higher education for P.E teachers should be included in the education system to encourage more youths to take up such jobs.
The government can also include fringe benefits and incentives that make the jobs look more attractive to the younger generation. Fringe benefits will motivate more youth to take in jobs as they provide more facilities than just pay. The firms employing youth can allow wide range of facilities like computer and WIFI services and at the same time meal services and access to television and allowing them to work in shift system. In Bhutan we have very few jobs besides hospitality and security jobs that include shift system. Such shift system will attract more youths as they have choice over to work during the early and late hours and these firms can increase their take in employee as it extends its working hours. Firms can maintain small library to entertain the youth employee and keep them busy and this way book lovers will be motivated to take up such jobs because they get more than pay. The government can help in organizing fairs among firms to exchange ideas and skills and experiences and at the same time to take a break from their monotonous working hours. Some firms can also take initiative to run happy hours either for health classes or book reading period.
The government should promote program to create awareness about job availability in market, skills required for such jobs and at the same time to bring about changes in the mentality of people against blue collar jobs. Majority of our youths including those that are in search of jobs have no idea about jobs that are available in the market and the procedures to get employed in such jobs. The youths who are in search of scholarships have no idea of how to go about the application process as this even restricts them from attainting higher education. The government along with Royal University of Bhutan and concerned ministries should organize and promote fun program where the youth will be guided and monitored to be aware of jobs available in market and this will widen their choices and increase their probability to work in jobs suited with their skills. Such programs should come at the beginning of the year as youths undertaking different courses can decide and those that are dropouts can avail to different training according to the market demand.
The government since the inception of the first five year plan has failed to consider unemployment and particularly youth unemployment as a major issue. Therefore the government should consider unemployment issues at national level and lend priority to them as they are of vitality to the growing population. The government should encourage smaller families and lesser taxes on education and petty business. The government should allocate more budget in areas that can help to reduce unemployment. The parliament should endorse bills that are related of ways to reduce unemployment and make sure policy makers keep in consideration the unemployment issue whenever framing plans and programs. Every five year plan must be given a space to discuss and emphasis on ways to reduce unemployment in youths and the leaders both at the local as well as national level can conduct friendly meetings with youths, interacting and seeking their opinions on ways to reduce unemployment.
For a small country like Bhutan the youth will play an important role as they are the future leaders and citizens of the country. The government should continue to expand their support to reduce unemployment in youth and encourage youth to continue education and even avail to higher studies so that we create highly educated and skilled manpower in the near future. Volunteerism and extracurricular activities in schools such as sports and arts are important to keep youth healthy and engaged.