According to The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the unemployment rate of Bangladesh lessened to 2.3 per cent during the time of April - June, 2023. But the survey also says that agriculture is still now the main source of employment rather than industrial or service sectors which is almost 44 per cent of total employment rate.
Another survey published by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) in August, 2022 says that 47 per cent educated people of Bangladesh are unemployed, whereas International Labour Organisation (ILO) said that the unemployment rate of youths at that time was 10.6 per cent.
Why the unemployment rate is so acute in Bangladesh is a burning question of time now. With the advancement of information technology, the world has become smaller where the pave is now also blowing on the economic sectors of this country.
Though the lack of practical education is one of the key issues for increasing the unemployment rate of Bangladesh, the tendency of centralisation of job sectors to the capital can't be ignored. Consequently, Dhaka is extremely overcrowded which creates negative impacts on the people's lifestyle of the city. On the other hand, decentralisation of some industries' head offices to port city Chattogram, may help to lessen the burden from Dhaka. This would require private sector's planning supported by government's incentives. Also, it can help to make a balanced industrialisation of the country which will be helpful for the upliftment of the economic growth and exaltation of lifestyle.
Chattogram is host to several reputable educational institutions, including universities, colleges, and technical training centres. The presence of these institutions ensures a skilled and educated workforce in the region. As the local talent pool continues to grow, businesses in Chattogram have access to a diverse range of professionals with various skills and expertise. This availability of skilled human resources enhances the city's appeal as a career hub, attracting both local and international companies looking to tap into the talent pool for their workforce needs. Once it develops as a career hub, youths can easily move to this city and build their career and families. This can be a strategic move for the country.
For the port facilities, many medium to heavy industries have already been set up in Chattogram which are working as a driving force in the country's economy. As for the corporate offices of those industries, the trend is very centralised in Dhaka. Decentralisation of the business headquarters to Chattogram may be a milestone to make Bangladesh an industrially balanced country.
The youths of Chattogram also think it as a demand of time as Chattogram bears each and every facility to have some corporate offices in this region. Kayes Md Sayfullah is the president of Chittagong University Debating Society (CUDS). He expressed his opinion why Chattogram deserves the facility to have the corporate offices or headquarters of the industries. According to him, "Chattogram is blessed with an abundance of natural resources that have the potential to drive the economy forward. Also as the medium and large factories continue to develop in Chattogram, people from all over the country flock to the city for searching job opportunities."
He added that most of the major corporations maintain their headquarters in Dhaka, necessitating frequent trips for recruitment-related purposes. This can lead to various financial difficulties, including travel expenses, accommodation and food costs for job seekers. Industrial decentralisation to Chattogram may help the southern areas people of the country to get rid of that problem."
Kayes also said that commercial hubs and tourist destinations represent numerous investment opportunities in this area. With the right approaches and resources, the youths of Bangladesh can harness the region's strengths to create startups that generate employment opportunities if that can be administered directly from Chattogram.
Tanvir Anjum Shovon is the campus director of Hult Prize at University of Chittagong. He also shared his thoughts on why the decentralisation of corporate offices is necessary in Chattogram. He said, "If I focus on the current scenario of our country, it must be said that industrial decentralisation would be the most efficient way of increasing the overall productivity of the country. Though there will arise some internal and external difficulties due to geographical location, but most of them are temporary factors. By addressing the gap in the industrial supply chain and controlling the production procedure, the proper equilibrium in economic growth can be ensured by following decentralisation rules."
"Employment generation is one of the most highlighting points in the industrial revolution that would be possible by moving industries where opportunities remain the same. Now, we have a lot of industrial areas in Chattogram where the businessmen can shift their corporate offices and enjoy the facilities of decentralisation," he added.
He further said that the industrial activities of Bangladesh greatly depend on the blue economy and Chattogram Port is the key factor in this regard. So, in terms of export-oriented industries, Chattogram can be a good option for their corporate offices.
Nadia Islam is a student of the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at University of Chittagong. When she was asked about why the corporate offices should be decentralised in Chattogram, she pointed out some reasons behind it. She said, "Most of the jobs in Bangladesh are mainly Dhaka-based. Despite the fact that Chattogram is an industrial city, a good number of work opportunities has not yet been created. In particular, there is no sufficient scope for a good research sector in Chattogram for the student who passed from applied science. Scientific organisations and research centres should be established in this district. In that case, we can do internships in those organisations after graduation. As a result, the pressure on Dhaka will be reduced."
"For not having enough facilities in our country for scientific work, the students who have passed from applied science in our country, are going for government jobs to secure their lives. So, from the perspective of both public and private sectors, the corporate offices of banks, business companies as well as scientific centres and pharmaceuticals should be established in Chattogram, which will be a good opportunity for the students of this area," she added.
Chattogram has already proved that it is worth it to direct businesses well by keeping their head offices in Chattogram. BSRM, KSRM, and GPH Ispat are some of the country's leading industries for now, and these companies are directed from Chattogram. Also a lot of ready-made garment (RMG) industries have set their head offices in this city where RMG plays a vital role for earning foreign currency. Some agro industries in Bangladesh are conducting their activities successfully by staying in this city.
For example, the media industry of Bangladesh is very centralised in the capital and many young professionals work in media and its related agencies. Though Chattogram is enriched with its culture and prominent artists, the industry is not well-equipped in this region. Some media companies can be moved in this region which will play a role in the representation of southern culture to a large number of people.
The industrially developed countries in the world have gained their advancement for the proper balance in their business and economy. India can be a good example in this regard. They do not confine their business activities to their capital New Delhi only. Businesses are operated from other major districts including Mumbai and Kolkata. The countries of Europe and North America also did the same thing to boost their economy. Now in terms of Bangladesh, the decentralisation process should be implemented to make Chattogram a career hub for young professionals for the betterment of the economy.
Tanjim Hasan Patwary is an MBA student at the Department of Banking and Insurance, University of Chittagong.