In pursuit of full employment

Nov 26, 2012

imageThe national employment forum. Photo Courtesy Kuensel

The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) of Bhutan with UNDP support organized Bhutan's first National Employment Forum in the capital. The forum was prompted by Bhutan's issue of unemployment through the implementation of its 10th Five Year Plan. Addressing unemployment will continue to be emphasized in its next 5 Year Plan and is one of the 16 key results in its upcoming 11th Five Year Plan (2014-2018).

Development partners, including the UN system, are supporting these efforts, and have included overcoming unemployment as part of its United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) /One Plan (2014 - 2018). It is the first National Employment Forum with the objective of gathering perspectives from stakeholders and identifying options and building consensus around a set of actions.

During the forum, Chief Guest Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, Minister of Economic Affairs stated that the "need for full employment is important for the nations well being", he also said that at the begining of the 10th Five Year Plan, the unemployment rate was 4.2%, today towards the end of the 10th Five Year Plan this figure has been reduced to 2.2%. Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk also stressed the importance of "gainful employment" for the Bhutanese youth.

Technical support from UNDP was provided through UNDP's Asia Pacific Regional Centre, to draw from wider experiences in the region, provide an analytical framework to assess the employment situation, pinpoint bottlenecks in the labour market identifying reasons for the employment situation in Bhutan, and propose directions on which to base discussions at the proposed National Employment Forum.

The overall objectives of the forum were to present an evidence-based analysis to inform constructive debate and discussions, to facilitate the building of a shared understanding of the employment challenge and to support the development of feasible solutions and an action agenda for collaboration in the way forward.

The UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre (APRC), Bangkok also made a presentation on "Employment Challenges in Bhutan" using the Analytical framework on employment in Bhutan, building on the bottleneck analysis under Millennium Development Goals (MDG) acceleration framework and perspectives from countries in the region (APRC). The importance of jobs, financial stability and the bottlenecks in Bhutan like population growth and expansion of education enrollment were also presented as key factors that influence employment issues.

The forum saw high level officials, non-governmental organizations and a high youth presence all deliberate on current unemployment issues such as unemployment in Bhutan a myth or a reality, fundamental employment challenges in Bhutan, and possible solutions to improve the youth unemployment trend.