What’s in a number!
It’s heartening to see that the government is making good strides on the unemployment front, at least that’s what the findings of the recent National Labour Force Survey reveal.
The national unemployment rate has slightly declined – the figure standing at 2.6% as of 2014. That it has come down by 0.3 percent in 2014 is an assuring indication.
Unquestionably, such an outcome has been possible because of new initiatives that the government has undertaken to address the unemployment issue in the country. Initiatives such as Guaranteed Employment Programs and Overseas Employment Scheme have certainly helped to get jobs for some of our unemployed youth for the time being.
Such measures are short term, but it’s also an indication that the government is doing something. The mere acknowledgment that youth unemployment is a major concern is a good begin- ning in itself. We also need to stop comparing unemployment scenario in Bhutan with other countries and stop saying, “It isn’t that bad, here!”
Even if figures are ostensibly assuring, many a time, it’s not the depiction of the real situation in the job market. Sometimes, it’s just the contrary. Unemployment among young adults is increasingly becoming a serious issue. Finding jobs is becoming difficult in all areas and it will only get worse with the increasing jobseekers who graduate from colleges and universities each year.
So where do we absorb them? How do we absorb 3,567 graduates, who have completed their preliminary exam and when there are just 538 slots in the civil service? While government jobs will be the most sought after, we need to understand that it’s not the role of the government to give or offer employment opportunities. The government is not there to give jobs.
The government should instead create enabling conditions and come up with policy reforms and interventions that allow the corporate and private sectors to grow so that they can play an increasingly important role in fostering economic growth and employment creation. The private sector has been envisioned as an engine of growth since the Sixth Five Year Plan, but it’s still in its infancy. The private sector is inflicted with problems of all sorts – doing businesses isn’t easy. Bureaucratic rigmarole and access to finance and credit have stunted its growth.
This is where the government can intervene and create enabling conditions. For now, layoffs and workforce retrenchments in the private sector is more common in the private sector. Let’s not even talk about job creation.