Giving shape to Bhutan’s digital economy and future workforce

The report launch event included a panel discussion on the theme “Digital Transformation: Creating a skilled workforce for a digital nation.”

SONAM PENJOR

Thimphu

The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) in partnership with UNDP, and funded by the Government of Japan launched the “Digital Jobs in Bhutan” report on 9 November to set stage in preparing the country’s young workforce and advancing its digital economy.

Demand creation and future skilling report reassesses the needs for future skills and demand creation in the country in the context of changing nature of work, workplace, and workers in the country as well as regionally and globally.

“The report explores the potential for demand creation and future skilling strategy for jobs in the ICT sector, mainly building on the foundation of our past success achieved through the Thimphu TechPark,” according to the press release from Department of Employment and Human Resources, MoLHR.

During the launch, Labour Minister Lyonpo Karma Dorji said, “No nation, can think of an economy without a digital economy, more so after the Covid-19 pandemic, we know and have also realized it. Even in our own tiny country online services are essential while working from home is the new normal, and reaching your services and goods through digital connections are of great advantage.”

As a country, Lyonpo said that the government has mapped the way forward under the dynamic vision and guidance of our beloved Kings. Further, Lyonpo said, “His Majesty has always shown us the way forward in many national addresses. His Majesty has always mentioned how we should harness and leverage the benefits of technology, artificial intelligence, block chain, e-commerce, digital economy and many.”

UNDP Resident Representative, Azusa Kubota said digital systems and technological innovation can enable countries to leapfrog hurdles to growth and assist in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

She said that their one-year-long partnership with the Royal Government, in understanding the complex challenge of youth employment and engagement through a systems lens, also clearly pointed to digital jobs as opportunities that must be tapped into.

“This new report puts forward recommendations for young Bhutanese to venture into the opportunities such as freelancing, gaming, non-fungible token, and credential education as alternative certification. Some already exist in Bhutan, and the possibilities to tap into more are enormous. I urge the Royal Government to particularly consider skills requirements in the orange sector, and UNDP is ready to partner,” Azusa Kubota said.

Labour Minister Karma Dorji said the report provides important insights and recommendations for preparing our younger generation for the ‘future of work’ in the digital arena and also make Bhutan a potential destination for Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).

“The report will go a long way in transforming the digital jobs landscape in Bhutan. We will work hard to tap into the vast opportunities that lay ahead of us and to take forward the recommendations,” he said.

Lyonpo further said that digital flagship programs and education flagship programs, providing the necessary infrastructure components, ICT labs and equipment, RMA’s digital currency, to take care of digital assets and digital payments needs, and many skilling development plans, including Dessup Skilling Programs, all geared towards embracing the digital economy, or the 21st century needs.

Through policy interventions and initiatives, Lyonpo said the ministry has been constantly building the necessary infrastructure, tools, and ways to harness the benefits of digital technology and economy.

Meanwhile, the report comes at a time when Bhutan accelerates efforts to build a more resilient and adaptive 21st century workforce — in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new report is centered on His Majesty the King’s vision of nurturing the Bhutanese youth towards building the future of the country.

It lays an ambitious vision for Bhutan’s digital economy, one that provides 100 percent employment to the entire generation of young people with future skills that are transferable, relevant, and meaningful, with diverse, equitable, and digitally empowered diverse job pathways to thrive. Such a vision will ensure a high-income flourishing, sustainable economy for all.

To achieve this vision, the report proposes two crucial strategies to help Bhutan to boost its digital economy.

It states that Bhutan must look at creating demand for employment in the digital work ecosystem. The country must leverage its globally recognized brand and tourism industry as an entry point to promote Bhutan’s ICT sector as an attractive FDI destination and recruit global talent to build the capacity of the local innovation ecosystem.

“This entry point of Digital Bhutan should be compounded by a nuanced, private sector-led, and professional follow-through to turn that initial connection into deep FDI and skilling engagement.”

To fuel the local innovation ecosystem for a digital nation, the report states that Bhutan needs to prepare its workforce through rigorous skilling.

“The skilling strategy lays out the ground for mapping and building inclusive pathways for linking skills to jobs. This skilled workforce must meet the demand for skills that are required for Bhutan’s future digital economy.”