Alaul Alam :
It is obvious that the development of a country mostly depends on how much the country has engaged youth potentials in every sphere of the society. The youths are the driving force of a nation who have indomitable spirit to break the conventional attitudes of society and accept the challenges of the day.
Countries of the world go on creating many scopes for the young population but still youth employment has been one of the most crucial challenges for many countries. Especially, the developing countries are bearing the brunt of youth unemployment making them lag behind to cope with the developed countries.
In Bangladesh despite the ongoing efforts to promote youth employment over the years the country has not reached to the optimum level of engaging all youths into workforce. It is true that the country is on right track to engage all the youth force into workforce based on their skills and education. Short- and long-term strategies are being implemented to combat youth unemployment.
Education has been given much importance to address the unemployment problem. Undoubtedly, education is the precondition but merely education does a little until there is the combination of education and skill for being fit in the national and global labour market.
It is true that many unskilled migrants are working in many countries but in most cases they are paid less than the competent ones and a threat of firing from jobs of the unskilled is constant.
According to the Labor Force Survey 2017 of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the national unemployment rate is 4.2 per cent and the youth unemployment rate is 10.6 per cent which is more than double of the national unemployment rate and in the total unemployment the youth unemployment is 79.6 per cent. Besides, the rate of young women employment is more frustrating though we have seen a large number of women are joining workforce every year.
As per the recent report of BBS, about 8 million people in Bangladesh aged 15-24, are not in employment, education and training (NEET). As they have not received education or training they have hardly any access to employment but the possibility of their engagement in informal workforce cannot be denied.
Currently, a substantial number of youth are working in the garments, leather, and toy-making industries for a low wage due to their lack of proper skills apart from engaging in agriculture.
Surprisingly, unemployment rate is more escalating among the educated youth than the ones uneducated or little educated. According to a latest Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) study, more than one-third of the total youth labour force in Bangladesh with higher education is unemployed. This curse is ongoing as every year more than 7 lakh fresh graduates come out of universities for competing with the existing others in the labour market.
It is obvious that merely producing a huge number of graduates and post graduates is barely enough unless they turn into skilled manpower. There is a gap prevailing between education and employability. The existing education gives priority to the generalization of education which hardly equip students with skilled-based knowledge.
On top of that, amid the Covid-19 the situation gets tougher. According to a new study on the effect of the pandemic, the youth unemployment rate will be doubled and the worst sufferers will be educated youth as during the lockdown in education they may fall into the trap of session jam and many who completed study have hardly any scopes to enter the workforce as scopes of new jobs and posts are not created over an year that may deepen their woes.
There is no denying the fact that creating opportunities for the youth can result in peace and prosperity in the country while youth unemployment can breed many other social and family problems. For example, a youth who enters the labour force has hardly any possibility to lead a jobless life. On the other hand, jobless youth may be subjected to frustration leading to the involvement of many unethical activities in society.
However, the youth mentality is changing. In many cases the youths are trying to come out of the tendency of seeking jobs after completing their study. They are found engaging themselves in self-employment. Along with that they raise different types of farms and gardens to make them self-reliant.
These steps taken by the youth of the country are really praiseworthy but in many cases their efforts are devaluated as they sometimes face challenges to manage financial support from the family or the state to start a small business or a farm.
However, to promote youth employment in a large scale there is no alternative to the combination of education and skills. It is undeniable that the country sees a revolution in education that may be a blessing for the country. But it is time to redesign the existing curriculum. In this concern need-based education should be given the priority.
The education industry should focus on creating quality graduates to address the problem of youth unemployment. By introducing short-term training programmes the institutes should bridge the gap between the needs of the labour market and the increased stock of unskilled workers to ensure better job placement.
The youth either educated or uneducated with any socio economic background should be addressed in a holistic approach and based on their needs and eligibility they should be given opportunities to engage into labour force.
Again, in this regard, government, non-government and private agencies should create more job opportunities for the youth. The youth should be encouraged to be self-employed by offering them loans on easy terms. More importantly, it is a must to create skilled manpower to address youth unemployment.
The writer teaches at Prime University.