Employability of Humanities Graduates in Bhutan: An Examination of Graduates’ Perceptions

Dorji Wangdi *

Department of Local Government and Disaster Management, Langchenphu Gewog, Samdrup Jongkhar District, Bhutan.

Deki Wangmo

Centre for Bhutan and GNH Studies, Thimphu, Bhutan.

Leki Wangdi

Hebesa Primary School, Wangduephodrang District, Ministry of Education, Bhutan.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


With the alarming increase in graduate unemployment in Bhutan, many scholars have looked into the causes, implications, and potential solutions to Bhutan's unemployment issues. However, in Bhutan, only a few references have been made to individual majors and courses when analyzing students' employment status. As a result, the employability status of students in humanities majors is a grey area, especially in Bhutan. There is much speculation around the employment prospects of a student undergoing humanities courses, with people often citing the humanities courses in Bhutanese colleges as too broad and redundant. Therefore, this study examines the employability perception of the humanities graduates in Bhutan and the factors contributing to their unemployment. A non-probability sampling procedure, called a snowball sampling technique, was employed to collect data from 316 humanities graduates through a structured questionnaire. The findings reveal that employability depends on various factors such as academic performance, integrated courses, work experiences, and skills acquired while studying. The study also highlights the skill mismatch problem in higher education institutions and recommends producing work-ready graduates. Despite the students' enthusiasm for the humanities course, their employability prospects in the field are questionable after graduation due to the mismatch between the course content and the jobs in the market. In order to address this issue, the study recommends that universities and colleges integrate practical and work-ready programs into their courses to enable graduates to acquire the necessary employability skills. Additionally, universities and companies/agencies should collaborate to bridge the gap between industry skill requirements and the skills graduates acquire. This research intends to initiate conversations on controlling the number of humanities course intakes to reduce the increasing trend of humanities graduates in an inadequate job market.

Keywords: Employability, humanities, perception, employers, undergraduates’ curriculum

How to Cite

Wangdi , Dorji, Deki Wangmo, and Leki Wangdi. 2023. “Employability of Humanities Graduates in Bhutan: An Examination of Graduates’ Perceptions”. Asian Journal of Advanced Research and Reports 17 (8):26-40. https://doi.org/10.9734/ajarr/2023/v17i8502.


Download data is not yet available.


Garsten C, Jacobsson K. Learning to be employable: An introduction. Learning to be employable: New agendas on work responsibility and learning in a globalized world. 2004;1-22.

Ministry of Labor and Human Resources. beyond graduation survey; 2017.


Mouchipku MVY. The employability of humanities graduates in South Africa: the perceptions of recruitment agencies [Master Thesis]. University of Johannesburg; 2019.


Smuts R. The humanities and social transformation: Reflections on the South African experience. South African Journal of Higher Education. 2010;24(6):992- 1002. Available:https://www.jstor.org/stable/24571153

National Statistics Bureau (2019 October) Statistical yearbook of Bhutan; 2019.


Tshering K. An exploratory study of unemployment among graduates in Bhutan. Journal of Bhutan Studies. 2015;33(1):125-145. Available:https://www.bhutanstudies.org.bt/publicationFiles/JBS/JBSVol33/An%20Exploratory%20Study%20of%20Unemployment%20among%20Graduates%20in%20Bhutan.pdf

Tamang S, Adhikari R. Graduate unemployment in Bhutan: A study of factors and perceptions. Journal of Bhutan Studies. 2018;39(1):27-49.


Wangchuk S. Unemployment and job mismatch among university graduates in Bhutan. Journal of Bhutan Studies. 2019;41(1):128-150. Available:https://www.bhutanstudies.org.bt/publicationFiles/JBS/JBSVol41/Unemployment%20and%20Job%20Mismatch%20among%20University%20Graduates%20in%20Bhutan.pdf

Harvey L, Knight P. Helping departments to develop employability. Briefings on Employability . Higher Education Academy; 2003.Available:http://www.heacademy.ac. Uk/assets/documents/tla/employability/briefing_5_helping_ departments_% 20to_develop_employability. Pdf

Smith M, Brooks S, Lichtenberg A, McIlveen P, Torjul P, Tyler J. Career development learning: Maximizing the contribution of work-integrated learning to the student experience. University of Wollongong; 2009.


Sumanasiri EGT, Yajid MSA, Khatibi A. Review of literature on graduate employability. Journal of Studies in Education. 2015;5(3):75-88.

Harvey L Locke W Morey A, Universities U. Enhancing employability recognizing diversity: Making links between higher education and the world of work Universities UK; 2002.


Dittrich L. Graduate employability and the role of 21st century skills. A case study among Humanities students and academics at the University of Oslo [Master of Philosophy in Higher Education Faculty]. University of Oslo; 2019 May. Available:https://www.duo.uio.no/handle/10852/70084

Dacre Pool L, Sewell P. The key to employability: Developing a practical model of graduate employability. Education and Training. 2007;49(4):277–289. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1108/00400910710754435

Bridgstock R. The graduate attributes we’ve overlooked: Enhancing graduate employability through career management skills. Higher Education Research and Development. 2009; 28(1):31–44. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360802444347

Mason G, Williams G, Cranmer S. Employability skills initiatives in higher education: What effects do they have on graduate labour market outcomes? Education Economics. 2009; 17(1):1-30. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/09645290802028385

Voogt J, Roblin NP. A comparative analysis of international frameworks for 21stcentury competencies: Implications for national curriculum policies. Journal of Curriculum Studies. 2012;44(3):299– 321.


Knight PT, Yorke M. Employability and Good Learning in Higher Education’ Teaching in Higher Education. 2003;8(1):3-16. Available:https://srhe.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1356251032000052294

Lindberg ME. At the Frontier of Graduate Surveys - Assessing participation and employability of graduates with master’s degree in nine European countries Higher Education. 2007;(53):623–644. DOI:https://doi.org/10.3403/30339967

Kalamatianou AG, Kougioumoutzaki F. Employment Status and Job-Studies Relevance of Social Science Graduates: The Experience from a Greek Public University. International Journal of Economic Sciences & Applied Research. 2012;5(1):14-82.

Fenesi B, Sana F. What is your degree worth? The Relationship between Post- Secondary Programs and Employment Outcomes. Canadian Journal of Higher Education Revue Canadienne D’enseignement Supérieur. 2015; 45(4):383-399.

Robst J. Education and job match: The relatedness of college major and work. Economics of Education Review. 2006;26:397–407. Available:https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272775706001415

Drewes T, Giles P. Liberal arts degrees and the labor market. Perspectives on Labour and Income. 2001;13(3):27.

Available:http://search.proquest.com/openview/a175255f8a28c127f2c3078e38c369e2/1?pq- origsite=gscholar&cbl=44493

Verhaest D, Sels L, & De Witte H. (2015). Competing with peers or interacting with customers? An empirical study of the influence of job characteristics on graduates' job search behaviour. Higher Education 69(3):509-525.


Moleke P. Employment experiences of graduates: Employment and Economic Research. Human Sciences Research Council; 2003. Available:http://repository.hsrc.ac.za/handle/20.500.11910/7736

Oosterbeek H, Webbink D. Is there a hidden technical potential? De Economist. 1997;145 159–177.


Migdad M. Unemployment among the graduates of the education system in Palestine. Journal of Al Azhar University-Gaza (Human Sciences). 2011;13(1):25-50.

Lin Z, Sweet R, Anisef P. Consequences and policy implications for university students who have chosen liberal or vocational education in Canada: Labor market outcomes and employability skills. Higher Education Policy. 2003;16(1):55-85. Available:https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/palgrave.hep.8300002

Harvey N, Shahjahan M. Employability of Bachelor of Arts graduates. Sydney: Office for Learning and Teaching. 2013;14-171 Available:https://ltr.edu.au/resources/CG9_1156_Harvey_Report_20131.pdf

Eisinga R, Te Grotenhuis M, Pelzer B. The reliability of a two-item scale: Pearson Cronbach or Spearman-Brown? International Journal of Public Health. 2013;58 (4):637-642.

Ministry of Labor and Human Resources. A focus on graduates and labor market dynamics; 2014.

Available:https://www.molhr.gov.bt/molhr/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/2nd-advisory- document.pdf

Richen K. Education reform in Bhutan: Meeting the Youth Employment Challenges; 2008.

Available:https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304699281_Education_Reform_in_Bhutan_Me eting_the_Youth_Employment_Challenge