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Graduates and jobs

If you throw a stone from a building in Thimphu, it probably would hit a university graduate!
This is not because of the presence of the thousands of graduates in the capital attending the National Graduate Orientation Programme, but because of the sheer number of young people finishing college. Given our free education system, most young people tend to complete college to make them employable. But the sheer number of students finishing college is overwhelming the government.
This year, a total of 3,844 graduates sat for the August 6 preliminary examination to compete for the 494 vacancies that the Royal Civil Service Commission has announced. Jobs are limited and seven graduates will be competing for one seat in the civil service. This excludes the hundreds from 2016 and another few hundreds from the previous years.
The private sector and corporations will take some, but even there, it has reached a saturation point, especially the corporations. With austerity measures kicking off in the commercial corporations, the mantra is “small size better performance.” This is no good news for those looking for a job and starts a life.
There is no avenue for jobs. The labour ministry is lost. They are trying hard, with the minister even sharing job vacancies announced on his personal Facebook page. The overseas employment scheme is backfiring. Many are losing hope and confidence in the government’s promise.
The frustration is growing among the young lot. The private sector that has been long recognized as the engine of growth is lacking firepower. They cannot take the graduates, may be a few. This all are reasons for young graduates to worry about.
The number will keep increasing. This excludes who drop out from school at various level and are in the job market. The government must do something before the young frustrated minds are affected.
It is the last year of the present government’s term. They will leave no stone unturned to create jobs. But they should not look for short-term measures. The government needs to look into sectors that can employ Bhutanese. For instance, a lot is invested in the hydropower sector. But the sector is not creating enough jobs. Simple economics say that a growing economy is measured by the number of jobs created. The GDP may be increasing, but it is fake if it cannot create jobs.
There is one area where the government can turn to. Bhutanese have been dependent on agriculture. Agriculture is one sector where we can still improve and give jobs to graduates. They can be farmers, entrepreneurs, distributors or agents. We have a noble policy of making Bhutan food self-sufficient. This had only remained a policy.
Investing in agriculture, even half of what goes into Hydropower could improve the image and productivity of the sector. This will attract jobseekers. In fact, they could become employers. There are encouraging signs and stories of how young graduates are becoming successful farmers. We should explore this more.
Investing in agriculture will have many benefits. It could reduce import, cash outflow and create jobs. It is not late. The fallow lands could be turned into productive lands where educated and young people could make opportunities.

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