Not so good news for the jobless


Ever since Belayat Ahmed completed his graduation two years ago from a  college under the National University nearly, he applied to different  private companies and submitted his resume to a few job boards. 

Yet, the youth from Khulna could not get the “golden dear”.

In  the meantime, the outbreak of novel coronavirus disrupted everything,  having an impact on the employment landscape and the job market.

With  number of job postings dropping sharply of late, he doesn’t see any  hope of getting a job anytime soon as the pandemic and subsequent  closures rendered a large number of people jobless.

“I need a job to support my family. But I don’t know what will be the situation after the pandemic,” said the 24-year-old.

Belayat  is among the thousands of graduates who are now apprehending a bleak  future ahead as Covid-19 appears to be one of the biggest destroyers of  employment in the history.

Hundreds of jobs could be lost  permanently and according to preliminary estimates by the Asian  Development Bank, this number of jobless people could rise to 1.4  million.

Bangladesh was already struggling with a huge  number of unemployed population — nearly 26 lakh to be precise — even  before the pandemic began in the country.

Though the  government has been saying job creation will be one of the main  priorities, yesterday’s budget did not bring much good news for  unemployed youths like Belayet or returned migrant workers or those who  have lost jobs or are at the verge of losing earning sources as fallout  of Coid-19 pandemic.

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal did  not give any specific guidelines on how the major challenges of  creating jobs will be resolved. He, however, spoke of the initiatives  that have already been taken.

“We have announced a large  stimulus package of about Tk 1,03,117 crore to fight the economic  fallouts from the coronavirus, one of the main objectives of which is to  remove temporary job losses by revitalising the economic activities,”  the minister said.

Experts and entrepreneurs, however, said the government could have taken a special measure to address the employment problem.

“We  already have a mismatch in the skills and job market. Now amid the  coronavirus situation, the problem will be more acute,” Brac University  Professor Emeritus Manzoor Ahmed said.

“Employment creation  is now stagnant. Opportunities of job in informal and many formal  sectors are shrinking in home and abroad. Many are migrant workers are  returning home and will return soon. They [government] could have taken  special plan, but it remains a traditional budget,” he added.

Rasheda  K Choudhury, executive director, Campaign for Popular Education  (CAMPE), said in the budget government should have given priorities  economic recovery, investment and allocation in human resource capacity  development through education and health sector.

“Creating skill human resource creation is directly related with job market.”

ADB’s  policy brief tilted “Covid-19 Impact on Job Postings: Real-Time  Assessment Using Bangladesh and Sri Lanka Online Job Portals” came out  on May 29 said that businesses in Bangladesh stopped hiring workers  because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The number of job  postings decreased by 87 percent in April, in comparison with same month  of 2019, according to ADB’s policy brief.

The number of  job postings in April 2020 was down by 95 percent in textile and  education industries, and by 92 percent in the manufacturing industry.  The sharp decline in the textile industry could be related to the  pandemic affecting key export markets such as Europe and the United  States.

“This is the time to take new steps,” said Anwar-ul Alam Chowdhury, president of Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (BCI).

“Steps  should be taken to increase capacity in some sectors like retail,  cottage industry and SME. Opportunities in light engineering, blue  ocean, agro process and IT sector is opening up due to relation among  China, US and EU”, he said.

Anwarul suggested creation of a  separate human resources ministry, which will conduct research and find  out the skills the market demands. This ministry will make  recommendations, and the education ministry will prepare curriculum  along that line, he said.

EDUCATION BUDGET NOT ADEQUATE

The  finance minister allocated Tk 66,400 crore for education sector for  2020-21. The amount makes up 11.69 percent of the total outlay and its  share in the GDP stands at 2.09 percent.

Bangladesh has  committed in the Dakar Declaration and other global forums to spend 6  percent of GDP or allocate at least 20 percent of the national budget  for education. Unesco also stipulates a similar budgetary allocation for  education.

Educationists say the government expenditure on  education as a proportion of GDP has been hovering around 2 percent for  the last several years, which is lower than in many other South Asian  countries.

The bulk share of the budget goes to salaries  and operational expenditure, leaving little scope for ensuring a quality  education and skill human resource development.

The  educationists said that with this little education budget country will  not be able to reap the benefit from the demographic dividend.

Demographic  dividend is the economic growth potential that can result from shifts  in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working  age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working age share of  the population (14 and younger, and 65 and older).

About 65 percent of Bangladesh’s population is between the age of 15 and 64 now.

STIMULUS PACKAGES

The  stimulus packages include a subsidised loan fund of Tk 5,000 crore to  enable payment of salaries and allowances of workers and employees in  export-oriented industries, including ready-made garments.

Two  separate low interest loan facilities — Tk 30,000 crore low-interest  working capital loan to affected large industries and service sector  organisations, and Tk 20,000 crore low interest working capital loan to  the micro, cottage and small and medium enterprises.

“We  will expand the system of distribution of low interest loans to poor  village farmers, returned expatriate workers and trained and unemployed  youths for their engagement in business and self-employment activities  in the rural areas in agriculture, agriculture related production and  services, small businesses and small and cottage industries,” said the  finance minister.

To support this initiative, a low  interest loan facility of Tk 2,000 crore has been created, which will be  distributed through Palli Sanchay Bank, Probashi Kallyan Bank,  Karmasangsthan Bank and Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF).

Mustafa Kamal said the fourth priority sector will be job creation and rural development.

The  objectives are– to tackle unemployment in the industry, SMEs and  services sector and the rural non-formal sector due to partial closure  of overall economic activities, and to create employment opportunities  for expatriate Bangladeshis who have been forced to return from abroad,  he said.

Wasim Bin Habib and Mohiuddin Alamgir

Ever  since Belayat Ahmed completed his graduation two years ago from a  college under the National University nearly, he applied to different  private companies and submitted his resume to a few job boards.

Yet, the youth from Khulna could not get the “golden dear”.

In  the meantime, the outbreak of novel coronavirus disrupted everything,  having an impact on the employment landscape and the job market.

With  number of job postings dropping sharply of late, he doesn’t see any  hope of getting a job anytime soon as the pandemic and subsequent  closures rendered a large number of people jobless.

“I need a job to support my family. But I don’t know what will be the situation after the pandemic,” said the 24-year-old.

Belayat  is among the thousands of graduates who are now apprehending a bleak  future ahead as Covid-19 appears to be one of the biggest destroyers of  employment in the history.

Hundreds of jobs could be lost  permanently and according to preliminary estimates by the Asian  Development Bank, this number of jobless people could rise to 1.4  million.

Bangladesh was already struggling with a huge  number of unemployed population — nearly 26 lakh to be precise — even  before the pandemic began in the country.

Though the  government has been saying job creation will be one of the main  priorities, yesterday’s budget did not bring much good news for  unemployed youths like Belayet or returned migrant workers or those who  have lost jobs or are at the verge of losing earning sources as fallout  of Coid-19 pandemic.

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal did  not give any specific guidelines on how the major challenges of  creating jobs will be resolved. He, however, spoke of the initiatives  that have already been taken.

“We have announced a large  stimulus package of about Tk 1,03,117 crore to fight the economic  fallouts from the coronavirus, one of the main objectives of which is to  remove temporary job losses by revitalising the economic activities,”  the minister said.

Experts and entrepreneurs, however, said the government could have taken a special measure to address the employment problem.

“We  already have a mismatch in the skills and job market. Now amid the  coronavirus situation, the problem will be more acute,” Brac University  Professor Emeritus Manzoor Ahmed said.

“Employment creation  is now stagnant. Opportunities of job in informal and many formal  sectors are shrinking in home and abroad. Many are migrant workers are  returning home and will return soon. They [government] could have taken  special plan, but it remains a traditional budget,” he added.

Rasheda  K Choudhury, executive director, Campaign for Popular Education  (CAMPE), said in the budget government should have given priorities  economic recovery, investment and allocation in human resource capacity  development through education and health sector.

“Creating skill human resource creation is directly related with job market.”

ADB’s  policy brief tilted “Covid-19 Impact on Job Postings: Real-Time  Assessment Using Bangladesh and Sri Lanka Online Job Portals” came out  on May 29 said that businesses in Bangladesh stopped hiring workers  because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The number of job  postings decreased by 87 percent in April, in comparison with same month  of 2019, according to ADB’s policy brief.

The number of  job postings in April 2020 was down by 95 percent in textile and  education industries, and by 92 percent in the manufacturing industry.  The sharp decline in the textile industry could be related to the  pandemic affecting key export markets such as Europe and the United  States.

“This is the time to take new steps,” said Anwar-ul Alam Chowdhury, president of Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (BCI).

“Steps  should be taken to increase capacity in some sectors like retail,  cottage industry and SME. Opportunities in light engineering, blue  ocean, agro process and IT sector is opening up due to relation among  China, US and EU”, he said.

Anwarul suggested creation of a  separate human resources ministry, which will conduct research and find  out the skills the market demands. This ministry will make  recommendations, and the education ministry will prepare curriculum  along that line, he said.

EDUCATION BUDGET NOT ADEQUATE

The  finance minister allocated Tk 66,400 crore for education sector for  2020-21. The amount makes up 11.69 percent of the total outlay and its  share in the GDP stands at 2.09 percent.

Bangladesh has  committed in the Dakar Declaration and other global forums to spend 6  percent of GDP or allocate at least 20 percent of the national budget  for education. Unesco also stipulates a similar budgetary allocation for  education.

Educationists say the government expenditure on  education as a proportion of GDP has been hovering around 2 percent for  the last several years, which is lower than in many other South Asian  countries.

The bulk share of the budget goes to salaries  and operational expenditure, leaving little scope for ensuring a quality  education and skill human resource development.

The  educationists said that with this little education budget country will  not be able to reap the benefit from the demographic dividend.

Demographic  dividend is the economic growth potential that can result from shifts  in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working  age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working age share of  the population (14 and younger, and 65 and older).

About 65 percent of Bangladesh’s population is between the age of 15 and 64 now.

STIMULUS PACKAGES

The  stimulus packages include a subsidised loan fund of Tk 5,000 crore to  enable payment of salaries and allowances of workers and employees in  export-oriented industries, including ready-made garments.

Two  separate low interest loan facilities — Tk 30,000 crore low-interest  working capital loan to affected large industries and service sector  organisations, and Tk 20,000 crore low interest working capital loan to  the micro, cottage and small and medium enterprises.

“We  will expand the system of distribution of low interest loans to poor  village farmers, returned expatriate workers and trained and unemployed  youths for their engagement in business and self-employment activities  in the rural areas in agriculture, agriculture related production and  services, small businesses and small and cottage industries,” said the  finance minister.

To support this initiative, a low  interest loan facility of Tk 2,000 crore has been created, which will be  distributed through Palli Sanchay Bank, Probashi Kallyan Bank,  Karmasangsthan Bank and Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF).

Mustafa Kamal said the fourth priority sector will be job creation and rural development.

The  objectives are– to tackle unemployment in the industry, SMEs and  services sector and the rural non-formal sector due to partial closure  of overall economic activities, and to create employment opportunities  for expatriate Bangladeshis who have been forced to return from abroad,  he said.





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