A new digital jobs report to shape Bhutan’s digital economy

November 9, 2021

Photo: UNDP/Kinley Wangmo

Thimphu, November 9:  The “Digital Jobs in Bhutan: Demand Creation and Future Skilling” report reassesses the needs for future skills and demand creation in the country in the context of changing nature of work, workplace and workers.

The report produced jointly by Royal Government and UNDP with funding from the Government of Japan comes at a time when Bhutan accelerates efforts to build a more resilient and adaptive 21st century workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis, through its multidimensional impact, has exposed and amplified the vulnerabilities of the existing workforce, resulting in job and income losses. As of July 2020, over 13,000 people lost their jobs to the pandemic and nearly 30,000 Bhutanese were seeking jobs. 

Lyonpo Karma Dorji, Minister for Labour and Human Resources and UNDP Resident Representative Azusa Kubota launched the report in Thimphu today.

The new report is centered on His Majesty the King’s vision of nurturing the Bhutanese youth towards building the future of the country. It lays an ambitious vision for Bhutan’s digital economy, one that provides 100% employment [100% employment in this case refers to the definition of full employment which is close to 97.5%.] to the entire generation of young people with future skills that are transferable, relevant and meaningful, with diverse, equitable and digitally empowered diverse job pathways to thrive. Such a vision will ensure a high-income flourishing, sustainable economy for all.

To achieve this vision, the report proposes two crucial strategies to help Bhutan boost its digital economy. First, Bhutan must look at creating demand for employment in the digital work ecosystem.  The country must leverage on its globally recognized brand and tourism industry as an entry point to promote Bhutan’s ICT sector as an attractive Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destination and recruit global talent to build the capacity of local innovation ecosystem. This entry point of Digital Bhutan should be compounded by a nuanced, private sector-led, and professional follow through to turn that initial connection into deep FDI and skilling engagement.

Second, to fuel the local innovation ecosystem for a digital nation, Bhutan needs to prepare its workforce through rigorous skilling. The skilling strategy lays out the ground for mapping and building inclusive pathways for linking skills to jobs. This skilled workforce must meet the demand for skills that is required for Bhutan’s future digital economy. The report highlights the fact that due to limited information on future skilling data in the country, identification of future skills and linking them to the demand in the labour market are challenging. Therefore, global trends and data have been used to guide the report.

“The report provides important insights and recommendations for preparing our younger generation for the ‘future of work’ in the digital arena and also make Bhutan a potential destination for FDIs,” said Lyonpo Karma Dorji, Minister for Labour and Human Resources, at the launch of the report. “The report will go a long way in transforming the digital jobs landscape in Bhutan. We will work hard to tap into the vast opportunities that lay ahead of us and to take forward the recommendations.”

UNDP Resident Representative Azusa Kubota said digital systems and technological innovation can enable countries to leapfrog hurdles to growth and assist in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Our one-year long partnership with the Royal Government in understanding the complex challenge of youth employment and engagement through a systems lens also clearly pointed to digital jobs as opportunities that must be tapped into. This new report puts forward recommendations for young Bhutanese to venture into the opportunities such as freelancing, gaming, non-fungible token, and credential education as alternative certification. Some already exist in Bhutan, and the possibilities to tap into more are enormous. I urge the Royal Government to particularly consider skills requirements in the orange sector, and UNDP is ready to partner.”

Minister Miyamoto Shingo, Head of Economic Section at the Embassy of Japan in New Delhi joined the event virtually.

The report was spearheaded by the TVET Reform Initiative with the Prime Minister’s Office. UNDP supported the report as part of its COVID-19 response and recovery project, “Innovation for a Smarter, Greener and More Resilient 21st Century Bhutan” funded by the Government of Japan.

“The COVID 19 pandemic reinforced the importance of digital technology. It showed that even in a country like Bhutan, a relatively small economy nestled in the Himalayas, the digital technology has the potential of providing employment opportunities that were unimaginable in the past,” said Minister Miyamoto Shingo, Head of Economic Section at the Embassy of Japan in New Delhi. 

The report launch event included a panel discussion on the theme “Digital Transformation: Creating a Skilled Workforce for a Digital Nation.” The panel, broadcast live on BBS TV, delved into key practical interventions that need to be implemented to build a home-grown technology-based innovation ecosystem.

Panel discussion on “Digital Transformation: Creating a Skilled Workforce for a Digital Nation"

Media contact:

Mr. Sangay Norbu, Information and Media Officer, Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, Mobile: +975 1771 5315, Email: snorbu@molhr.gov.bt.  

Ms. Dechen Wangmo, Communications Analyst, UNDP Bhutan, Mobile: +975 1734 3086, Email: dechen.wangmo@undp.org