Since unemployment and poverty go together, the first step towards poverty alleviation should be creation of jobs. Obviously, creation of employment poses a huge challenge before the policymakers particularly in a populous country like Bangladesh hemmed in by resource constraints. The news report that the government has recently framed a National Employment Policy 2022 (NEP 2022) and in it some of the challenges facing the task of employment generation have been identified is no doubt a step in the right direction. Side by side with pinning down the hurdles, the NEP is also learnt to have set out a scheme of generating 30 million jobs by 2030.
Evidently, it is a grand objective to achieve. For it implies that the government will have to create more than 3.5 million jobs every year till 2030. The question is does the government have the sector-wise information as to which sector of the economy would require how many jobs? More importantly, the potential job-seekers will be required to have the necessary skills to qualify for a job. In that case, there should be adequate financial resources in hand as well as training infrastructure in place to prepare the unemployed for the job market. And as the job market is constantly in a state of flux, the skills training programmes have to be geared to meet its ever-changing demands. So, the success of the entire effort would hinge on developing a digitalised database dedicated to supplying updated information on the country's employment market. Now, the primary task before the government will be to meet these preconditions in the run-up to the drive to create that number of jobs within the specified time. But it is not given that a person with the required skill will get the sought-after job. The demand for job is not also created automatically.
In fact, it is the industries, both in the public and private sectors that create the demand for jobs. But the existing industries in all the sectors in the economy lack the capacity to absorb all the unemployed people in the country. As reported in the said Policy, the country has at the moment around 15.2 million unemployed. And more than 17.75 per cent of them belong to the category of hidden or disguised unemployment, which is low or unproductive employment. Also, there are more than 60 million able-bodied people without work in the country, the NEP report further adds. Worse yet, the existing industries and other workplaces in the formal sector can absorb only 15 per cent of this vast army of the unemployed, while the unstructured informal sector employs the rest 85 per cent.
To overcome these hurdles, the formulators of the NEP will also have to act as a catalyst to create the necessary conditions for mobilising the required investments in different sectors of the economy to build their capacity for absorbing the greater portion of the unemployed. Since women, who constitute 50 per cent of the total able-bodied workforce, are mostly unemployed, or working in the informal sector, the NEP-framers will have the added task of making the skill training programmes and their curricula gender-sensitive. Once the ground is fully prepared, the framers of the policy can then start working at full throttle to provide jobs to 1.84 million persons locally and 0.5 million persons overseas by 2030 as part of the SDGs. This is how the government can hope to alleviate poverty as well as achieve its vision 2041.