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12 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Unemployment a big problem for Bangladesh

The question is how much of this economic growth is actually benefitting people if growth is not inclusive
Rayhan Ahmed Topader
Unemployment a big problem for Bangladesh

Youth unemployment issue is crucial for sustainable development of Bangladesh. The youth unemployment has increased significantly over the years whereas the overall unemployment remained stable. The annual rise in population is increasing the share of the working-age population, as a mass of new employees joining the workforce of the country. The BBS reported that, in 2016, the youth population in Bangladesh has been about 52 million which is more than 33 percent of the total population. Over the next 10 years, the working-age population structure has been expected to grow more than 2.2 million annually. As the employment is falling with a simultaneous slow response on job creation, it would be an issue for the Bangladeshi policy makers. Similarly, global youth unemployment is in the more critical situation than the overall unemployment. ILO reported that one-third of the young people, 1.8 billion, were not involved in employment, education or training. It is expected that around one billion youth would enter the job market and only 40 percent of them would be able to get jobs in the next decade. Many employers do not seem to value skills acquired in existing TVET and emphasise transferrable and soft skills ,general basic education do not offer effectively. There appears to be a low-skills equilibrium in which the economy and the private sector are trapped.The economy seems to have adjusted to a state of low skill and low productivity of workers at the cost of low productivity of the economy, and generally low earning and underemploy ment among workers, with or without skill training.

Under these circumstances, investment in expanding the existing system, even with some tinkering with efficiency issues and the call for larger numbers of young people to participate in TVET may not produce the desired results. Structural changes in the system and new thinking about governance management, resource provision and use, and capacity building at different levels are required.The absence of quality education and a skilled labour force are the main causes of youth unemployment in Bangla deshThe World Bank report found that more than 75% of business leaders claimed that a scarcity of skilled young workers was a challenge to hiring youth. Because investment to generate employment is not in line with demand, he said the country currently must hire skilled workers from India, Sri Lanka and Thailand because of shortage of skilled labour.e said Bangladesh’s population under 30 years of age makes up 60% of the total labour force.n International Labour Organisation study from 2013 estimates that the working-age population will grow annually to more than 2.2 million people over the next 10 years.A recent survey carried out by Prothom Alo (a Bangladeshi newspaper) on the youth's perception of the country and their future, brought out some interesting facts about job prospects in Bangladesh.Although 74 per cent of the respondents expressed overall satisfaction with the economic situation, 82 per cent are unsure about securing a job in today's economy. Given the global recession and a lack of growth of jobs in the country, the bulk of the youths surveyed didn't provide an optimistic outlook about finding meaningful employment.Their remarks are not off the mark when we look at the data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) which showed that sustained economic growth over the past few years was unable to deliver employment opportunities.

Then the question is how much of this economic growth is actually benefitting people where growth is not inclusive.That the bulk of our young people are not associated with any economic activity or any sort of skills development mechanism, leads one to the conclusion that there is a huge gulf between our expectations and the reality on the ground.Economists have been pointing out that Bangladesh's economic growth has been performing satisfactorily with 6 to 7 per cent GDP growth.However, employment opportuni ties have not been on par with this growth, which leads one to think that mere economic growth does not automatically guarantee employment. Similar sentiments were echoed by South Asian Network for Economic Modelling (SANEM) in its quarterly review on the Bangladesh economy.It states that although the economy has performed well, the job market has not grown correspondingly, and hence the conditions of the people have not improved markedly. Similarly, the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) stated in its discussion on the latest budget that the nation is fast headed towards a great depression to be triggered by joblessness. We now have more than 30 per cent unemploy ment rate among the educated class.So we are actually in the midst of a jobless growth where the standard of living for the common people does not improve despite a growing economy.Bangladesh is experiencing a persistent unemployment problem, which is getting worse by the day. Recent media reports point out that the economy creates only two million jobs every year, but a mere 600,000 new jobs were created during 2014 and 2015.

We have to contend with the fact that investment in the private sector has remained stubbornly low over the past few years, so where will the new jobs come from? Again, policy action remains unclear as to how to boost domestic investment, and regardless of all the hype centring on foreign direct investment, it is obvious that the job sector will get a boost if domestic investment grows.Policies need to be undertaken to revamp the skills develop ment sector. Technical education remains below par and the few technical education institutions that we have in the country are not churning out enough skilled workers either for the domestic or the overseas market.Young graduates have to get used to the idea that not all of them will be absorbed into the formal job sector and many will have to become self-employed. For them to develop entrepreneurial skills, we need to revamp our system of education which does not truly equip them for a life in business.Education can no longer be limited to coaching-centre-based education and the pursuit of GPA 5 results. It needs to be a knowledge-based pursuit that requires a rethink at the policy level on what is being taught in our schooling system and what should be taught. Young people need to learn to think for themselves and we need to give them the tools for that thought process to begin early on.There is a host of structural changes that need to be undertaken and those will not necessarily be painless. For a healthy growth in the job market, we will have to undergo serious policy changes in various sectors of the economy.

A failure to make these will mean tens of thousands of young educated people joining the ranks of the millions unemployed with little hope for a better future. Hopelessness is a dangerous thing nowadays, especially in an age of extremism where the tendency of extremist outfits is to draw upon the educated to carry out destructive activities. We do not need to go there. What we need is a wake-up call that will help Bangladesh reap the demographic dividend. Youth unemployment is expected to be a major problem for Bangladesh over the next decade, according to a report released by the World Bank yesterday. The report titled Toward Solutions for Youth Employment released in Washington said the country was simultaneously experiencing a fall in the employment growth rate and a slow uptake in job creation. The report said the problem of youth unemployment is global, with a third of the world’s 1.8 billion young people not currently involved in employment, education or training.

Youth unemployment is expected to be a major problem for Bangladesh over the next decade, according to a report released by the World Bank yesterday. The report titled Toward Solutions for Youth Employment released in Washington said the country was simultaneously experiencing a fall in the employment growth rate and a slow uptake in job creation.The report said the problem of youth unemployment is global, with a third of the world’s 1.8 billion young people not currently involved in employment, education or training. The report said a further one billion youth will enter the job market in the next decade, but only 40% are expected to be able to get jobs that currently exist.

The World Bank report compared the situation and indicators in four focus countries Bangladesh, Salvador, Tunisia and Uganda. How is it in Bangladesh? A binary definition of employed and unemployed does not portray the reality in Bangladesh and other developing countries. The poor cannot afford to remain unemployed .The large majority of them are actually under-employed in the unregulated informal economy eking out bare subsistence from insecure, vulnerable and low-wage work. The challenge is to link education and training with skills and jobs in a way that contributes to creating a sufficient numbers of decent jobs .Mohammad Ashraful Alam, chairman of the criminology and police sciences department of Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University, told the Dhaka Tribune that there is a big connection between crime and economics.

Youth suffering from poverty, unemployment and illiteracy are often driven by frustration towards drugs,he said, adding that the step to crime is a small one.If unemployment rises, the crime rate will too, he said. Ashraf said the state needs to take responsibility for this by creating new jobs and upgrading the education system to include science and technology. Young people will feel that they do not belong and society may treat them as a burden. Ehsan said crime will likely follow such a state of affairs, if not among the rich, almost certainly among the middle and working classes. Ehsan said job creation and stipends may help deal with unemployment.

    The writer is a freelancer

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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