In nations where a significant proportion of individuals possess the means to sustain their financial obligations and actively contribute to the advancement of their respective countries, the populace assumes the role of a productive workforce. In nations where a significant section of the labour force is without employment, an excessive population is regarded as a source of strain. Bangladesh unequivocally falls into the second category, when unemployment is viewed as detrimental.
Nevertheless, there needs to be more certainty regarding the precise number of individuals who are unemployed in Bangladesh. Based on the most recent labour force survey conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics in 2017, the total number of individuals engaged in employment within the country amounts to 63.5 million. This figure comprises 6.8 million men and women actively participating in the workforce. Therefore, the current unemployment rate in the nation stands at 4.2 percent, with 27 lakh individuals classified as unemployed..
However, a pressing inquiry among numerous individuals pertains to the integrity of the reported low unemployment rate in the nation. What is the reason behind the prevalence of individuals displaying emotional distress through tears in their immediate surroundings? To obtain a response to this inquiry, it is essential to possess a comprehensive understanding of the precise meaning and definition of the term “unemployed.” Assume an individual works for at least one hour per week and receives a variable remuneration in exchange. Regardless of the minimal nature of the salary, irrespective of its ability to provide sustenance, individuals will no longer experience unemployment. The definition of unemployment referred to in this context is the one established by the worldwide Labour Organisation (ILO), which holds worldwide recognition. Primarily because of this factor, the unemployment rate in the nation remains significantly low.
However, there may be competing opinions regarding this figure. According to several labour rights organisations, the estimated range of unemployment in the country spans from a minimum of 1.5 million to a maximum of 5 million individuals. Additionally, according to a report from the Daily Star, two analysts have estimated that the current unemployment rate in the country ranges from 1.3 million to 1.5 million individuals.
Prominent scholars in education, economists, and influential figures in the business community inside the country attribute the underdevelopment of the Bangladeshi youth in the professional sphere primarily to the substandard nature of their education. There is widespread criticism regarding the declining quality of higher education nationwide. The issues above include unsatisfactory training, insufficiently trained personnel, a scarcity of a competent workforce, institutions’ inability to meet the demand for quality education, and inadequate investment in the education sector.
Economists claim that skill shortages have a discernible impact on salaries after individuals enter the labour market. Before joining the workforce, many individuals believe that achieving substantial academic achievement, such as obtaining a first-class degree or a high cumulative grade point average (CGPA), will enhance their prospects of securing a higher wage within the job market. In actuality, despite the initial advantage of first-class abilities upon joining the workforce, their subsequent income growth determines their job performance and efficiency.
Prominent scholars in education, economists, and influential business leaders within the nation attribute the underdevelopment of the Bangladeshi youth in the professional sphere primarily to the substandard nature of their education. Critics assert that the standard of tertiary education inside the nation has significantly declined. The reasons for the issues above include unsatisfactory training, an insufficiently qualified workforce, inadequate provision of education by universities in response to demand, and limited investment in the education sector.
Technical education can play a major role in enhancing the skills of the youth of the country under the conventional education system. Currently, more than 1.2 million students are studying at 8,675 technical educational institutions across the country. Besides, a decision has been taken to introduce technical education at the lower secondary level as well. This is undoubtedly a very positive thing.
Among technical institutions, polytechnic institutes offer a four-year diploma in engineering. Apart from this, there are BM, vocational, and agriculture diplomas. Now it is seen that those who are doing these courses are getting employment easily. Even if there is a gap between expectations and achievements, they do not have to remain unemployed.
However, the issue of neglect and deprivation in various fields of technical education is also undeniable. A general educational institution takes precedence over a technical educational institution in local recommendations. Such a change in mindset is necessary for the expansion and upgrading of technical education.
The mindset of students and parents also needs to change. Technical education graduates have higher employment rates than university graduates. But still, most of the students and parents feel that these jobs have low social status. Because they are more willing to get office-based jobs!
That is why, despite the massive downturn in the job market, most students sit in hope and end up underemployed or pseudo-unemployed without finding a job. For example, a total of 4 lakh 75 thousand applications have been submitted in the 41st BCS, where the number of posts is 2,135. That means more than 200 candidates will compete for each post, and ultimately, more than 99 and a half out of every 100 will fail! But even so, every year thousands of students turn to general education instead of skill-based education, with a very uncertain future, despite the ample facilities, just for mental reasons.
Meanwhile, a new trend is emerging among young people to become entrepreneurs after university studies. Entrepreneurs abroad have a system of financing. But in Bangladesh, they still don’t get money like that from the public or private sector. Also, if someone starts something on a small scale, it takes a few years to get a profit from it. Until then, it becomes difficult for these entrepreneurs to survive. Those who start with a little more money and enough skilled workers may survive. But this is due to the lack of sufficient funds for emerging entrepreneurs as well as skilled workers as per demand; most do not get them. At the end of the day, the odds of failure are heavy.
There is an apparent demand for skill-based education in contemporary society, characterised by scientific advancements. Only a tiny minority of students can secure desirable employment opportunities based on their general knowledge. A significant proportion of students experience attrition or fail to achieve their intended level of achievement due to inadequate skill development. Hence, the government must demonstrate genuine commitment towards implementing substantial reforms in the education system, prioritising skill-based and professional education. Simultaneously, students and parents must acknowledge and embrace the reality that possessing skills is indispensable for survival in the contemporary competitive landscape.
According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the attainment of a high-quality education system in Bangladesh is contingent upon the collective recognition within the community of the imperative for efficiency in the education system and the subsequent implementation of requisite changes. This objective must be accomplished by the year 2030. Furthermore, developing skilled human capital within the nation will effectively alleviate unemployment among highly educated individuals.