That a high percentage of the country's graduates and post-graduates are unemployed was common knowledge but the latest Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) research now comes up with a startling fact. This concerns as high as 33 per cent of the graduates and post-graduates with first class results in examinations are unemployed. To say the least, this is shocking. It is believed that those who obtain first class have high demand in the job market and there is no question of their remaining unemployed. But the information gathered by the BIDS from 15,000 respondents has revealed the disquieting data. According to the study, the highest unemployment rate at 37 per cent is among honours graduates and among post-graduates it is 34 per cent. Now among those who have obtained first class, from 28-34 per cent remain unemployed. If the GPA-5 holders at the SSC and HSC are also included, the employment rates vary between 19 and 34 per cent. This shows that overall one-third of the educated youths are unemployed and higher the education is the higher the rate of unemployment.
Clearly something is terribly wrong on the education front. If only the graduates and post-graduates with unenviable results had discovered themselves unemployed, it was something not so surprising. But when graduates and post-graduates with the highest score find themselves unfit for employment anywhere, it reveals a mismatch between the kind of education offered at the universities here and the demand of the job market. This assumes extra significance when read against the news that foreigners are employed, legally or allegedly illegally, in the industrial sector -- readymade garments in particular -- to remit no less than $5.0 billion annually. The indication is clear: there are jobs that local graduates or educated youths cannot perform.
Still more worrying is the fact that even vocational and technical education as imparted by technical institutes has also proved to be irrelevant to the employment market. The country's industrialisation should have absorbed technical hands more than any other groups of educated youths. Why there is also a mismatch should be thoroughly looked into for a review of the syllabi. As for the higher studies in developed countries, there is always strong collaboration among universities, research centres, industries, businesses and enterprises. They know each other's requirements and accordingly do everything in their capacity to meet those.
Now what are the financial rewards for those with higher scores? The BIDS finds that of the post-graduates with first class results, only 25.49 per cent draw a salary above Tk 40,000 but pitiably 10 per cent of such talented job-holders cannot even draw Tk 10,000 a month. Among first class graduates, the rate of those who draw Tk 40,000 a month is lower by a whisker -24.59 per cent. Considering the huge investment on the educated youths and their dedication to earn the best possible results, such rewards are really incompatible. No wonder, young people want to leave the country and try their luck abroad. Many of them prove their worth there. So the need is to make education compatible with the demand from the employment market.