The Build Bhutan project, one of the initiatives, spearheaded by the labor ministry, as part of the Economic Contingency Plan (ECP) targets to engage 7,000 job seekers including those who are laid-off from their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government plans to address the gap in shortage of workforce in the construction sector with the ‘Build Bhutan’ project.
It would firstly, on immediate need of the labor force in construction sector manage and mobilize a pool of skilled and unskilled labor in the construction sector, said Tashi Dorji, a ECP Delivery unit member, Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Another objective is to retain the workforce in the construction sector because of inadequate pool of skilled labor force in the local market and thirdly, to build construction sector as a viable employment-generating sector, he added.
Moreover, Principal Secretary, PMO, Chencho said the immediate solution is how to augment or compliment the workforce shortage that has been created by lockdown in India and closure of borders.
“There are construction projects either been started or some are in verge of completion, both in public and private projects that has led to sudden disruption in foreign labor supply,” he said.
Moreover, Chencho said the long-term goal would be to create an opportunity for the domestic workers to learn the skill themselves and take up responsibility of building in-country infrastructures.
There are almost 40,000 to 50,000 job seekers registered with the labor ministry, of which around 8,000 are active job seekers before the pandemic situation, said Tashi Dorji.
Additionally, an estimated of about 20,000 to 25, 000 are laid off from the jobs due to the pandemic coronavirus including those who applied for His Majesty’s Kidu program, he added.
Tashi Dorji said the assessment has also looked at requirement of occupation skills and shortage of workforce in carpentry, masonry, and electricals, among others.
Similarly, ministry also plans to come up with a plan to teach skills to 3,000 individuals in different skills programs in the National Certificate I (NC-I) and National certificate II (NC-II) to retain the workforce.
“They would be deployed to the designated sites after completion of one to two years of training and upon assessment from the ministry if individual is found competent would be provided the certification, “said Tashi Dorji.
The labor ministry has completed the assessing the technical capacity of the institutes and capacity of trainers and supervisors and the program would commence from June this year.
“For the sustainability and employability, we are also looking at creating specialized group for this occupational skills and group, for example a number of groups for electricians can provide services as a group and not as an individual and employ service contract and sub-contracting agency,” he added.
Conventional skill training would take around one to two years.
On the wage component, Tashi Dorji said government is planning to set up minimum wage rate provided from the employer with additional top up from the government.
“That would make the job attractive enough for the local workers,” he said.
Moreover, he said foreign workers are provided with Nu 400 to Nu 700 based on their skills and Bhutanese minimum wage rate requirement of Nu 600 on average is little more expensive.
Wage workers for Construction Development Corporation Limited are paid Nu 400 to Nu 700 depending on the location of the site, availability of the workforce and skills level of individual.
The ECP delivery unit also informed that the labor ministry is assessing the viability of creating employment agency for construction sector and looking to standardize the construction as professional workforce sector with creation of specialized firms that would work on particular construction works.
Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu