Youth unemployment in Bangladesh may be more than double this year if the country takes six more months to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused economic output and demand to fall drastically.
According to a new study on the effect of the pandemic, the youth unemployment rate will go up to 24.8 per cent in case of a six-month-long containment of the virus. The report said the number would go up to 1.67 million if the country takes six more months to curb the deadly virus.
Agriculture, retail trade, hotels and restaurants, inland transport, other services, construction and textiles sectors would account for 75.9 per cent of the job losses in Bangladesh.
The widespread and deep disruption caused by the pandemic to economic activities in manufacturing and services has exacerbated the pre-existing condition. It also disrupted education, which, in turn, affected the future labour market entry and employment prospects of the youth.
Sectors such as banking and fast-moving consumer goods that used to provide quality jobs to educated youth are struggling because of the recession despite their reopening.
The government has taken a few initiatives to support self-employment of the youths by setting up a start-up fund, but it is allegedly not being implemented well.
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 substantial job opportunities during the period.
The rural areas have 1.82 million unemployed people, more than double the number of those 0.77 million, in urban areas, according to the latest Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) labour force survey. The urban-rural population ratio is 30:70 in Bangladesh.
Analysts observe that the unemployed population should be higher than what was shown in the survey. Unlike many western economies where people get state benefits during periods of unemployment, people in Bangladesh are not entitled to such benefits or social security supports.
Although Bangladesh's private sector creates more employment opportunities than the public sector, private investment as percentage of gross domestic product has remained stalled for quite some time -- a stagnation which is a major reason for high unemployment rate.
More than 50 per cent of the population is young in Bangladesh against 20-25 per cent in Europe. The future driver of opportunities is the young population that the country is blessed with. So, all stakeholders have to take their share of responsibility to give them the right sense of direction.
The universities and other educational institutions, for instance, need to teach high-tech science and digital media as their demand is increasing globally. The people should be digitally educated with the help of top class teachers and increasing internet accessibility.
Also, there is a need for raisingthe number of women as workforce in the formal sector. This is required because diversity leads to better decisions and Bangladesh women have proved their potential as entrepreneurs, white collar job holders and workers.
The labour-intensive manufacturing industries need to play a vital role in 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 skills produced by educational institutions and the demand of industries.
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 prospective changes in the future industries.
The country's large youth population has to be equipped withthe 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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