Youth unemployment conundrum

The Norzin Lam in Thimphu bore a different look last Friday. Young boys attired in gho, with files tucked in between their armpits, and beautiful girls in colorful kiras flocked in droves along this multicolored street, except that their faces were not as vivid as their dress or as lively as the street.

Most of them, college and XII passed graduates, were on their way back from the National Job Fair held at the YDF complex, hoping against the odds that they might land a job this time. While few were fortunate, it was the same ordeal for some others.

Nonetheless, this is the same scenario everywhere nowadays. For example, in the recent vacancies announced by the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan, for some negligible slots, more than 300 graduates have already put up their job application and resume.

And whenever a vacancy is announced, jobseekers hopping in just like dogs chasing a cat have become a normal scene. We can’t blame them either.

But the fact is youth unemployment is becoming a serious issue. Serious than the projection made by the government. The figures like unemployment rate is down from 2.5% to 2.1% and youth unemployment from 12.9% in 2009 to 7.3% now could be some consolation, but the real scenario seems to be otherwise so.

Some feel that youth unemployment could be many times more than the government’s projection. A few others blame the education system for not imparting students vocational skills, just as the government reiterates mismatch of demand and skills as the main reason for youth unemployment time and again.

However, more needs to be done than this mere explanation. Rhetoric alone wouldn’t suffice. As this issue continues to exacerbate in want of what needs to be or must be done, underemployment is another problem sprouting up recently.

There are graduates who are employed after years of schoolings, but survive on measly income, mostly underemployed. It seems they have no other options than to succumb to this predicament. One cannot imagine living alone in a place like Thimphu where rents show no signs of abating and inflation is on an upward trajectory.

The fact is something, somewhere is definitely going wrong. Even the private sector envisioned to be the engine of economic growth is presently in a shamble. It’s still weak. Employees from private companies are being laid off, further aggravating the youth unemployment setback.

But should be blame the country’s economic policy then for this quandary? Or the government for not creating enough jobs? Or for not doing enough? How long will this continue and what will help to solve this problem? We must delve for solution and must act; act before water crosses over our head.

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