Negotiating through setbacks

The special YELP program under MoICE is toiling hard amidst multiple impediments to achieve its target 

The Youth Engagement and Livelihood Program (YELP), a special initiative by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment (MoICE) is facing a major setback as regular support could not be continued since March 2023, mostly due to budget constraints.

“Due to budget constraints, YELP was kept on hold until September 2023,” an official from MoICE said. However, there was a budget surplus in September 2023 due to candidate withdrawals, and support for selected sectors resumed in November 2023 again.

According to the Department of Employment and Entrepreneurship (DoEE), they received a minimal budget to support only spillover candidates. In addition, the official said that due to withdrawal of some candidates, the department had a certain budget surplus, which the department has prioritized to support certain sectors under the special YELP support program.

For instance, YELP provides different school-to-work transition support to job seekers entering the labor market. “Through this engagement, jobseekers can acquire required skills and expertise which enhances their employability in the labor market,” an official from DoEE said.

On the YELP wage, the official from the ministry said that the ministry provides a wage subsidy of Nu 5000 as a monthly allowance to the candidates from the government’s side. However, the official said that the wage increase for the candidates depends upon the private sector as they have to provide wage top-up.

The YELP supports selective sectors including Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), agriculture sector, tourism and hospitality sector, Early Child Care education and Development (ECCD) centers, people with disability, startups, skill development program (SDP), and technical and vocational education and training (TVET), amongst others.

The YELP program was reviewed in July 2020 and a second revision was made on July 2021 to accommodate COVID-19 affected individuals and laid off employees from affected sectors. In order to support those affected by the pandemic, the age bracket and qualification ceilings were also waived off.

The YELP program was launched in August 2019 aiming to engage job seekers in the private and other sectors for them to gain on-the-job skills and experience required to enhance their employability.

Since the inception of the program till 28 February, 2023, about 5049 candidates were supported under the program.

The official shared that DoEE is implementing engagement programs, promoting entrepreneurship programs and strengthening career guidance through enhanced labor market information to ensure that youths are able to navigate the labor market seamlessly.

The government has started to give more focus on entrepreneurship programmes, amongst others, where they are supported with some financial help from the government which the ministry has been also helping the entrepreneurs who employ other job seekers in their business.

Through such interventions, the ministry aims to create an avenue for jobseekers to gain on-the-job skills and work experience required to enhance their employability while also supporting their livelihood.

Similarly, the ministry, in order to keep the mandate of providing gainful employment, developed many strategies and programs to engage youth meaningfully.

In the course of implementing the programs, emphasis has been on engaging youth to encourage them to be productive instead of doling out unemployment benefits that tend to promote idleness and discourage working.

According to the DoEE, most of the youth registered under the YELP program are those that have completed class XII, followed by university graduates and those who completed class X. Others include diploma holders and those that have not competed classes X and XII, amongst others.

Meanwhile, the ministry has successfully achieved its initial target of engaging and supporting the livelihoods of more than 6,000 youth in the country. Most of the youth are engaged in the service sectors and have been given opportunities to enhance their skills and develop work experience.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu