The population of the world is increasing gradually. As the elderly population is increasing in developed countries, on the other hand, developing countries like Bangladesh are seeing an increase in the number of young working people. A country’s economic development and strength mainly depend on the country’s knowledge and skills based human resources. Creating employment for the existing manpower is therefore an important task of a state. A country’s economic growth and poverty alleviation are closely related to employment. So, for stable economic growth, it is imperative that the unemployment rate be kept at a minimum level.
Bangladesh is one of the largest populous countries in this globe. It has vast young and energetic working group of people unlike many developed countries. But the opportunities for work are not as developed as in the developed world. It is now the high time to create opportunities for the huge young population and turn them into skilled manpower to lead the country in the journey of development.
Bangladesh is a labour surplus country. According to government plans, Bangladesh is on track to attain the status of an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and a developed country by 2041 by achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The implementation of this plan requires trained manpower and skilled workforce. Currently, the number of working people aged between 15 to 65 in the country is most, so it is the high time to take advantage of the demographic dividend in Bangladesh.
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Although the working population is high, a large number of them remain unemployed and unskilled. The desired development of the country is possible only if this huge population can be turned into human resources by giving modern education and necessary training. But there are many challenges behind it. What is to be seen is the role played by the conscious population and government of the country to face the challenges.
MANPOWER: STATISTICS AND PRESENT CONDITON
According to official estimates, the number of working people in our country is more than 6 crores. In terms of population, our country currently has the largest youth population. But they are not fully functional. According to the latest survey of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the number of unemployed in the country is about 27 lakhs. Among them, university-level unemployment is more than four lakhs. A misperception prevails among people that certificates are more important than education in schools and universities in the country.
Qualifications required to get a job are lacking among university students. Many of them have no idea how competitive the job market is. It is true that a university degree alone is not enough for a job. Young people need certain skills to get jobs and survive in the competitive labour market. These include leadership, communication, innovation skills, language, and technical skills, etc. There is also a reluctance among the youth to take up technical training for skill enhancement only because of the emphasis on certification. Hence the unemployment rate is high- est among the educated youth of the country which has risen to 10.6%.
According to another report, the number of shadow unemployment in the country is more than 1 crore. Young people aged 15 to 29 who are not in work, education or training are called shadow-unemployed. This huge population remains out of work. Although the economic growth of Bangladesh is increasing, the employment is not increasing.
In this situation, about 78 percent of the youth of the country are worried about their employment. Although the growth rate of GDP in the country is more than 8%, the job creation rate is only 3.32%. In order to achieve the SDG target by 2030, 18.4 lakh people need to be employed every year in the country and 5 lakh people need to be employed abroad, according to a research report. However, the few sectors that are playing a major role in the economic growth of the country, it is not possible for them to create so many jobs. For this, the government needs an up-to-date employment policy and public-private initiatives as well.
It is estimated that 62 percent of the Bangladeshi workers employed abroad are unskilled, 36 percent are semi-skilled and only 2 percent are skilled. As a result, Bangladeshi workers are falling behind in the international labour market due to extreme competition. The main reason for this is the lack of proper education or training required for the proper work of the working people.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES
There are several challenges in creating skilled workers such as:
Impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Since the late 20th century, we have entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The country’s existing industrialization process is gradually moving from labour-intensive to capital-intensive to reduce production costs due to the inevitable impact of the fourth industrial revolution. Along with the fear of job loss due to the impact of automation in the manufacturing process, there is also a glimpse of new employment opportunities. The impact of the fourth industrial revolution is projected to be greatest on the low-skilled and semi-skilled labour force, which is a cause of concern for Bangladesh.
Entrepreneurs can create employment. But many factors including unhelpful policies and tough conditions are considered to be creating obstacles in creating entrepreneurship.
Ensuring labour rights
In addition to creating more employment, there is a need to focus on increasing the quality of employment, including ensuring labour rights as suggested by the International Labour Organization.
Technological progress is one of the causes of rising unemployment. In recent years, employment opportunities have decreased despite the increase in production due to the use of modern machinery in garment factories.
Development of other sectors
A handful of sectors are playing a key role in the economic growth of Bangladesh. Every year about 20 lakh young people are joining the labour market. It is not possible for the garment sector alone or for a handful of sectors to create employment for these youths. To create more employment opportunities, other sectors need to be developed.
Lack of education and skills of migrant workers
There is a lack of education, language knowledge and working skills among workers engaged and interested in overseas work. Experts emphasize foreign language learning in creating job opportunities abroad. It is necessary to identify the skills required for employment abroad. Apart from these, there are other things that need attention:
Inadequacy of sector-wise modern technology-based training centres
Absence of modern facilities and equipment for training and lack or inadequacy of qualified trainers
Lack of conducting surveys to determine what type of skilled manpower is required in the country Lack of public and private initiatives to create skilled workers
Weakness in proper monitoring and supervision of training standards and activities of training institutions
Inadequacy of accurate information on sector-wise demand and supply of trained manpower.of training institutions
Lack of conducting surveys to determine what type of skilled manpower is required in the country
Not giving proper priority to vocational education and experience in recruitment.
HOW TO TURN THE HUGE POPULATION INTO SKILLED MANPOWER
Planned steps should be taken to properly utilize the large working population of our country. One of these is to standardize institutional education. In order to make technical education and training up to date, the educational curriculum should be developed or updated in all these educational institutions. Industrial institutions should be approached in introducing technical education training system as per the needs of the industry. Internship opportunities should be created for students in industrial establishments and on-the-job training should be provided for semi-skilled workers.
Employment opportunities in the formal sector for working people in the country are only 15 percent whereas 85 percent people work in the informal sector. The contribution of the informal sector to the national economy is the highest. As a result, the skills of the workers employed in the informal sector should be utilized by creating a decent, safe and healthy environment at the workplace and the skilled workers should be retained.
By knowing the needs of the hiring authorities in the workplace, suitable manpower should be created according to the needs. Otherwise, it will not be possible to reduce the number of educated unemployed.
Almost half of the country’s working population is women, most of whom are unemployed. 33 percent of them are working in the informal sector for low wages or nominal benefits. Special programs should be undertaken for women to acquire the necessary qualifications and skills to work in all traditional and non-traditional trades. Social awareness and motivational programs should be undertaken to remove social barriers for women to work in the workplace. In the context of enviable success in women’s education in Bangladesh, it is necessary to create a working environment and provide special opportunities for women.
In order to meet the challenges of the upcoming fourth industrial revolution, the country needs to be especially active in creating skilled manpower. It is thought that the work opportunities of those workers will be reduced due to the increase in the use of machines. Therefore, it will be needed to create opportunities to work in alternative workplaces. In addition to preparing the new generation for the labour market of the fourth industrial revolution, extensive training and retraining of the existing labour force are required to enhance skills.
Skilled manpower in information and communication technology, will help to engage the development sectors of the country in the upcoming automated digital and artificial intelligence rich technologies. It will also be possible to create new jobs through this project.
The job creation rate or the employment rate needs to be increased in line with the growth rate of national production of the country. In order to provide training to all the working people, the government as well as the private enterprise should build institutions.
In creating job opportunities abroad, along with creating opportunities for foreign language education, it is necessary to determine what kind of skilled man- power is needed in which country and create skilled manpower according to the plan.
A National Employment Strategy is needed for how and where to provide sustainable employment to this huge population. Implementation of the Employment Strategy Paper will require the support of laws and regulations. In addition, there is a need to manage overall employment related activities and establish employment service institutions. For this, formulation of integrated employment policy is the need of the hour.
The government is committed to end the unemployment of all the people of the country by creating employment for 3 crore people by the year 2030.In the National Labour Policy 2012 the development of skilled manpower based on modern technology has been given great importance in creating employment opportunities to meet the goals of the Government’s Vision 2021.With the initiative of the government,Bangladesh has achieved enviable success in women’s education. In 1983,the participation of women in the labour force was only 7 percent, today it has increased to 30 percent. Employment concerns are most prevalent among the highly educated youth.Although anxiety is high, overall anxiety about employment is much lower than before. In a 2017 survey, 82.3 percent of youth were anxious about employment, which has dropped to 77.6 percent this year.
In the meantime, in recognition of her outstanding role in developing the skills of the youth, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been awarded the Champion of Skill Development for Youth by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF.
The government thinks that by formulating and implementing employment policies, and the strategies to be taken, it will be possible to eliminate the unemployment of the country through the employment of 3 crore people announced by the honourable Prime Minister by the year 2030.
EMPLOYMENT POLICY 2022
According to the Employment Policy 2022 (Khasra) announced by the Government of Bangladesh with the aim of providing employment to all working people, its policy-objectives are stated:
- To encourage all men and women in Bangladesh to choose their employment with free will.
- To develop a multi-skilled productive workforce capable of sustaining global competition
- Identifying employment areas and creating new areas
- To introduce work-oriented education and encourage self-employment
- To create opportunities for every man and woman to engage in suitable work without discrimination according to their respective qualifications
- Ensuring decent working environment and the rights of all persons engaged in work in accordance with the prevailing laws in the country in the light of the approved international documents.
- To create service mentality among the employees
Also, the employment policy lays emphasis on self- employment. There are provisions for skill training, information provision, product marketing, credit extension etc. to facilitate productive employment generation and self-employment in agriculture, small scale industries, non-agricultural sector and also in informal sector.
It has been proposed to develop a database by classifying the working people for employment. In creating employment opportunities, follow ‘No one left behind’ and ensure inclusive employment; where it is stated that non-discriminatory employment will be followed including employment, training and giving preference to the disadvantaged groups. To tackle the multi-dimensional unemployment problem in the country, the government is considering framing employment policies as well as sector- specific supportive policies.
A separate policy shall be formulated for the purpose of facilitating safe and dignified appropriate employment abroad, which shall be deemed to be supplementary to the employment policy. It has been said to keep an eye on the existing legal regulations in the country to support this policy.
Millions of young people continue to contribute to our lives and livelihoods with their skills. Every year two million youths enter the labour market in Bangladesh. Various initiatives need to be taken to equip the youth with proper knowledge and skills. Although the number of working people continues to increase now, it will continue to decline around 2040 and will decline significantly after 2050. Hence, the right policies and plans are needed now to harness the demographic dividend. The demand of the time and the huge challenge to make the working people skilled with appropriate education or training required for suitable work in the country and abroad. Otherwise, our progress towards becoming a developed country as per Vision 2021 and Vision 2041 will be hindered.
And that is why Bangladesh Government has been taking various steps and has announced Employment Policy 2022 (Khasra) to transform 3 crore people into skilled manpower by 2030. It is hoped that if the initiatives taken by the government and private institutions are successful, Bangladesh will move firmly towards the goals of 2030 and 2041.