Despite significant economic growth in recent times, unemployment issues have not been resolved in the country. Bangladesh has been struggling to accommodate productive and decent jobs for its young community. Many low-income people have already returned to the rural areas, incapable of coping with the economic quandaries of the pandemic.
The sharp declining job market has left many ill-fated young people jobless and frustrated. Unemployment has become a major economic challenge in the country. The unprecedented Covid-19 induced setbacks have created massive shockwaves in the livelihoods of the marginalised people working in the informal sectors. Consequently, creating employment for the huge unemployed masses is one of the major challenges in the country at present.
According to the report of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) published in 2019, the unemployment rate in Bangladesh was 4.99 per cent. The youth unemployment rate was 11.9 per cent, which was more than two and a half times the national average. According to the International Labor Organisation (ILO), one in six persons in the world has experienced joblessness during the Covid-19 global pandemic, and one in four young individuals in Bangladesh has remained unemployed at this time.
There is an increasing need for the caliber and talents of the youths in these ever-changing times. It is obvious that in a power-driven world, knowledge involving science, information technology, research and innovation are the prime movers of the youth force. Projected progress of the country cannot be achieved without necessary changes in the integrated development plans for the youth. In such a reality, a greater degree of holistic approach to convert them into the driving force of our nation is pivotal.
Verily in the context of the competitive job market, there is a noticeable gap between the skills required by employers and professionals being produced in our higher educational institutions. So, appropriate courses and curricula need to be designed based on professional requirements to meet long-term needs of the country, and to transform our youths into promising human capital. A globally compatible and impactful education system can intervene in transforming our youths into invaluable human capital. But in reality, we are far from achieving such education, technology and innovations. Even many time-required premier technologies are still out of our reach.
Requisite attention has not been paid for sustainable youth employment in the country’s existing policies, including the National Youth Policy-2017. Albeit, the policy calls for steps for employment of the youth, but without any pragmatic plans which are holistically compatible with net youth employment.
An all-inclusive and realistic action plan needs to be adopted to heighten the right set of skills among the youth. It is also substantial to keep an eye on how the youths can become successful entrepreneurs. In this respect, a one-stop service may be offered to the youths. To continue the tempo of our economic prosperity, the unvanquished spirit of the youth must rightfully be utilised.
To prevent the continuous influx of domestic migration from rural to urban sphere, it is necessary to make our youth self-reliant by providing loans on easy terms and training them in various productive domains. By receiving job-oriented training, along with monetary support, the unemployed youth could generate employment also for others, getting themselves employed first. Thus, it is necessary to motivate unemployed youth to be engaged in agriculture, agro-related productions and services, small business enterprises, start-ups, and entrepreneurial ventures to create mass employment in the domestic arena.
The main change in our economy will come at the charismatic hands of the youth. Therefore, GOs and NGOs must work in a collaborative and coordinated manner for the overall development of the youth. The government has to work to ensure the participation of youth in every development project running in the country. If we think of being a prosperous developed state, then we have to work with the youth. If they are at the forefront of all economic activities, then the country will move faster creating an economic boom.
Skill enhancement and migration, youth mobilisation and internationalisation and reform of technical and vocational training to produce highly trained young manpower are issues which must be given highest priority. In this perspective, we hope our think-tanks will incorporate a National Youth Development Policy intending to make the youth top-notch change-makers in the socio-economic context.
If Bangladesh is to benefit from its indomitable youth population to meet the socio-economic goals, budget allocations for education and training, skill and expertise development must be enhanced. The increments in budgetary allocation should not be in amount only but also must be appropriately spent in the right sector. Hence, policymakers need to adopt strategic thinking and scenario remaking to approach a long-term future vision. We aspire to dream that heading towards resilient ventures based on the limitless potentials of our promising youth, will bring the best for the country in the days ahead.
Wares Ali Khan, teaching professional and development counselor