Just after the confirmation that Bangladesh has graduated from a least developed country to a developing one, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) comes up with its 2016-17 review over the employment scenario in the country. And it has not convinced those people who are mostly concerned about the rising unemployment problem. According to the statistics, the number of unemployed has increased by almost one lakh in the last one year. As a result, the country currently has 26.77 lakh unemployed people who were 25.9 lakh just the previous financial year. More worrying from the statistics is that the highest unemployment percentage is among the highest educated people. Unemployment rate among those with primary education is only 2.7 percent whereas it is 11.2 percent among graduate and post-graduate holders. It is clear, then, that the more people are getting educated, the greater the risk is to become unemployed.
The country is truly advancing in almost all sectors. Both per capita income and life expectancy have increased. And according to available data, about 13 lakh new areas of employment have been created. In spite of all these developments, the unemployment rate is constantly on the rise. This might be because huge employment opportunities have been created mostly for those who have little or no education. For this reason, the highly educated youths have fewer jobs, meaning the country adequately lacks proper jobs for those with higher education and better skills. One has little doubt over the fact that investment for new employment scopes is insufficient given the current scenario of the country.
The actual number of unemployed might be higher than is noted in the BBS estimate, for about 20-22 lakh people enter the labor market each year, but only one-third gets a job while the rest have to remain jobless. Several years back, an Economist Intelligence Unit report claimed Bangladesh had the highest number of educated unemployed. If all these above figures are inadequate to realize the true picture of the job market, it might be pertinent here to mention what happened in a job fair arranged only several months back at the newly constructed technology park in Jessore. More than ten thousand jobseekers crowded the fair premises for a handful of posts. The situation soon got beyond control and police had to baton-charge the crowd. The incident typified the increasing pressure of unemployment, which we have perhaps forgotten to address.
The government should focus on an inclusion of unemployment in development strategy as its number one priority. All development measures will be meaningless unless unemployment is properly handled.