Human Resource Development and Workforce Planning in Bhutan

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Landing in Paro, Bhutan and then being driven to Thimphu late afternoon on Monday 4 February 2013, colleagues Nelson Salangsang, Manager-International Projects, Office of Commercial Services, Queensland University of Technology and Rod McShannon from Busy at Work had already met with the Permanent Secretary, Director and key staff from the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources.

The Kingdom of Bhutan is land locked and bordered by China and India on the southern slopes of the Himalayas.  Weather was cool especially overnight and I noticed the difference with the altitude.  Views were of mountains, streams and agricultural, village landscapes.


Whilst the program was similar to that delivered in Maldives there was a slightly different emphasis.  Clarifying language and terms, building a common understanding of the structure and formal arrangements for an apprenticeship system, applying working models of partnerships , workforce planning and development supporting a National Human Resource Development (HRD) Roadmap were the main areas of knowledge transfer and learning.

The Permanent Secretary opened the workshop at Taj Tashi by outlining strategic directions for Bhutan and the following vision:

To make TVET a mainstream education choice in Bhutan by being a choice that all Bhutanese children, employers and industries aspire to.

Three priorities include:

  1. Human Resource Development Plan
  2. Engage industries
  3. Perception and image of TVET

Rod McShannon, General Manager, Apprenticeships from Busy at Work engaged participants in exploring:

  • Why are apprenticeships vital to our social fabric
  • How an apprenticeships can positively impact the hopes and dreams of our youth
  • Various School Based Apprenticeship models
  • Mentoring – challenges facing an apprentices
  • Benefits Apprenticeships bring to our community
  • Involving employers & parents
  • Training options online and face to face

Case studies from the Australian Industry Trade College and Blue Dog Training, demonstrated flexible, award winning approaches to integrating TVET with school curriculum and apprenticeships.

Lessons from Australia were shared on apprenticeship models including direct employment, group training based and school based apprenticeships.  Recognition of Prior Learning and TVET in school was of particular interest to participants with the overarching area for improvement being engagement with industry.

Day 2 began with discussion on what had changed with participants understanding of:

  • Strategic Directions;
  • Apprenticeships; and
  • Partnerships

With an intensive session on workforce planning and development, participants answered the question as to why Bhutan needs workforce plans for critical industry sectors.  At stage 4 in the workforce planning and development model designed by Workforce BluePrint, 3 groups of industry, government and TVET providers identified workforce issues and gaps, allocated priorities and designed workforce development strategies.

The way forward action plan based upon Workforce BluePrint’s template outlined the following key areas:

  • Engagement of stakeholders – industry and training organisations, civil society
  • Service delivery options: Apprenticeship modalities /models
  • Funding and Financing models
  • Accreditation and Quality Management
  • Capacity development – TVET providers and demand based training and assessment
  • Promotion, Recruitment and Advocacy
  • Industry Workforce plans
  • Apprenticeships including School Based
  • Partnerships – schools, employers, industry, TVET providers

For photos from the workshop click here and see the article in The Bhutanese newspaper.

Written by Wendy Perry, Head Workforce Planner, Workforce BluePrint, February 2013.

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