As we look around, we see plenty of youth organisations and entrepreneurs organising trainings, workshops and discussion sessions on how to develop oneself as a qualified candidate for a certain job or profession. While this sounds promising, and despite the fact that the youth is apparently not sitting idle but working on themselves to grow better, our job market and labour force present before us an opposite, a rather demotivating, employment situation. Masud (pseudonym) completed his graduation in polytechnic engineering two years back and has been looking for a job ever since. He interviewed for quite a few companies till now but couldn’t manage to get a decent job as the competition is quite high. The people who interviewed with him include five or six year seniors than him and employers are reluctant to appoint a fresh graduate without any previous work experience. In a situation like this, Masud now home tutors school and college level students to pay for his expenses. There are thousands of unemployed fresh graduates like Masud who have not got a job yet, or employ themselves otherwise.
Against a whopping 7.28 per cent rate of economic growth, the number of unemployed population has increased 0.1 million in 2016-2017 compared to the previous fiscal year. This came out in the latest Labour Force Survey 2016-2017 of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. The survey states the employment situation in the country to be job-rich, however, the same survey findings show that the number of workable people increased more than the jobs created, in other words, more people are jobless. The survey divides the unemployed labour force in three sections starting from the age of 15-24, 25-29 and, 30 above. The total amount of unemployed people are 2.6 million and the total percentage of unemployed people is 4.18 per cent which remained almost the same as the previous year.
It is not like there has not been any positive turns in the employment sector, women are getting more engaged in paid employment than before. As the survey shows, the female labour force increased at a rate of 4.6 per cent compared to that of 1 per cent growth in male labour force.
Setting this one positivity aside, among the unemployed, the most concerning group of people are the educated youth, who has completed their tertiary level education. The survey shows, if sorted by educational qualification, 1.5 per cent of the unemployed have no primary schooling, 2.7 per cent have some or completed primary schooling, 6.4 per cent have completed secondary or post-secondary level. The most shocking fact is that, among the unemployed, youth having completed their tertiary education, covers a big number of 11.2 per cent. As it is absolutely clear from the numbers, educated youth are three times more likely to not get jobs compared to others.
The International Labour Organisation considers people who work at least one hour a week to be also employed, BBS follows the same criteria, and even then the number of unemployed populations stands at 2.6 million. This indicates to the lower quality of jobs that the entire labour force along with the educated youth are exposed to having no quality alternative.
This is not only demotivating for the youth and their families who have invested enough time, effort and money in educating them, but it is also a dark news for the country as it has been lagging behind in using its educated youth to substantiate the economic development it is thriving to achieve in the near future.
The number of job creation has declined to 13 lakh from 14 lakh in 2015-2016 fiscal year against the economic growth. How does it work for the ever increasing educated young generation?
A majority of the educated youth go for the government jobs aka service sector for the security it provides with, however, not to mention, the demand is rather high compared to the need, making it impossible for most of the educated youth to get jobs in this sector. Some try for industrial and agricultural sector, some come up with small business ideas giving birth to small scale entrepreneurs, and some of them, after hard works, manage to get a decent living out of their inputs. When none of these work out, youth lose the interest in life, reports of committing suicide failing to get a job are nothing new anymore, a good amount of them become drug addicted, some try out the forbidden road of corruption and get webbed in the circle.
Many a social thinkers, educationists and economists believe the problem does not only lie with the creation of jobs, but in the educational system itself which lacks skill based training from the middle of schooling to anywhere in their educational journey. New Age Youth have contacted with a few of such signatories to shed some light on this given situation and the possible way out.
Educator and social activist Prof. Anu Mohammad told Dhaka Courier that “the commercial expansion of the education sector is giving good business to certain groups, increasing number of coaching centres, guide books — all are bringing business. Even employments are also turn into contract business. Privatisation and commercialisation of health sector also created business opportunities for few and making contribution to the GDP growth. But all these making education and health care more expensive for the common people. It seems that the main goal of the government is to increase GDP by any means even at the cost of people and environment to make growth rate look good and to rationalise plunder and corruption. Employment generation is not in the list or does not go with this. Therefore we are experiencing jobless and environmentally disastrous economic growth.”
Prof. Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow at Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), says that “When we talk about the unemployed population, the first thing we will have to figure out is that how many of them are looking for work and how many of them are not. About 35 per cent of the unemployed population is considered NEET, not in education, employment, or training. We have to focus more on how to bring this one third of the unemployed into the labour market. Even for the educated youth, it is a must to grow a certain skill. If we can ensure a productivity and enhancement based employment sector, our youth wouldn’t have to be jobless. But otherwise, we will be facing a sad scenario of labour dividend within the 30 years or so.
One effective and significant change might be including vocational trainings into school curriculums after class eight, so that, even if they leave education in the secondary level, they may take a skill with them. If Bangladesh wants to achieve its 2040 goal of being a developed country, it is a must to grow a skill and productivity based labour force.”