Unemployment situation in Bangladesh still remains a challenging task for the government. The country has failed to create adequate jobs despite higher economic growth in recent years. A modest growth of 7.11 per cent was registered during the last fiscal year.
Despite such a growth claim by the government, the country's job market is shrinking as capital-intensive industries are taking the place of labour-intensive industries, creating unemployments among the youths.
The latest survey of the Bangladesh government has found 2.6 million unemployed people in the country. The unemployment rate has slightly changed from 4.3 per cent in 2013 to 4.2 per cent last year though the government created some job opportunities during the period.
According to the latest Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) labour force survey, rural areas have 1.82 million unemployed people, more than double the number of those 0.77 million in urban areas. The urban-rural population ratio is 30:70 in the country.
Analysts say the unemployed population should be higher than what was found in the survey. Unlike many western economies where people get state benefits for periods of unemployment, people here in Bangladesh are not entitled to such benefit.
The private sector creates more employment opportunities than the public sector in the country. But investment in the private sector has been stalled for quite a long time, one of the major reasons behind the high unemployment rate.
More than 50 per cent of the population is young in Bangladesh against 20 to 25 per cent in Europe. The future driver of the opportunities is the young population that the country has. As such, all have to take their share of responsibility to give them the right direction.
The universities and other educational institutions need to teach high-tech science and digital education as their demand is increasing globally. The people should be digitally educated with the help of top class teachers and increasing internet accessibility.
A middle-income Bangladesh means 2.5 times its current GDP or $650 billion, with 90 per cent of it coming from service and industry sectors. In order to serve the bigger economy, skill development is of critical importance for emerging youths joining the job market.
Also, there is a need for raising the number of women in the workforce. This is required because diversity leads to better decisions. It has been witnessed that shareholders' return in women-led businesses is higher than in men-led business.
Investing in women, who make up half of the country's population is sure to benefit the country's economy. Leadership skill has also to undergo a thorough change. Diversity at workplaces is important, by way of hiring people with different cultural backgrounds and people from all walks of life.
The country's garment sector is facing shortage of skilled manpower. Skilled technical hands are being hired from abroad. The right kind of skills is seldom available to capitalise on the country's potential, despite having a young and vibrant population.
The labour-intensive manufacturing industries need to play a vital role for developing the country in the next few years. Two million new faces are joining the workforce every year. But there is a huge gap between the skills produced by educational institutions and the demand of industries.
There is shortage of fashion designers, technicians, dyeing specialists, washing and finishing experts and industrial technologists. These positions are so far being filled up by foreign experts. The skill gap in mid-level management positions is also significant in terms of communications and managerial skills.
The sluggish job creation has raised questions about the high economic growth figures being recorded, with some economists terming the phenomenon to be 'jobless growth.' Some others raised questions about the accuracy of official economic growth figures. The latest figure on employment generation comes after the BBS estimated GDP growth this fiscal year to be a record 7.24 per cent, up from 7.11 per cent a year earlier.
It is envisaged that there would be major changes in the nature of jobs in the next 20-30 years. The need of the hour is to bring changes to the education system in the light of the prospective changes in the future job market.
The country's large youth population has to be equipped with the right set of skills to make them employable in the fast-changing job market. Preparing the youth is crucial for the economy as some jobs are disappearing while new opportunities are opening up.
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