Drafting the country's first employment policy aimed at creating 30 million jobs by 2030 was announced months back. The move is a follow-up of one of the very significant election pledges of the ruling party during the 2018 national polls. Now that the drafting is done, one may look at the prospect of achieving this mammoth task with the realities at the back of one's mind.
The policy, first of its kind, has put an emphasis on employment with special focus on youths, according to official sources. The Ministry of Labour and Employment has drafted the policy titled the 'National Employment Policy 2020.'
According to reports, the labour ministry is working on setting up an Employment Department to generate skilled manpower and provide them with jobs. The proposed department is expected to prepare a roadmap for overcoming the future challenges and analyse the demands for jobs both at home and abroad. The department would set up training institutes in divisional headquarters across the country and devise demand-based training modules for unskilled people, ministry officials said. The main purpose of the policy is to encourage self-motivated, discrimination-free, timely, productive and full employment generation which the ministry believes would help foster national development. The policy will be applicable to all citizens both in the formal and informal sectors.
Though the gross domestic product growth rate was over 8.0 per cent, the rate of employment generation was only 3.32 per cent, the draft said. Citing research findings, it said, to achieve the SDGs by 2030, each year 1.84 million people need to be employed in the country while another 0.5 million outside the country.
At present, youth unemployment rate is 10.6 per cent and unemployment rate is higher among educated youths.
Though the youth population is large, the country can't properly utilise them, the draft policy said. On the other hand, 62 per cent of the expatriate workers are unskilled, 36 per cent semi-skilled and only 2.0 per cent are skilled.
The aim of the policy would be to encourage men and women for productive employment according to their desire and to develop a skilled workforce who would be able to face the global competition, the draft said. According to the draft, more than 85 per cent of the country's total workforce is engaged in the informal sector and the policy would work for ensuring decent work for this workforce.
The policy has also identified a number of challenges that hinder skilled workforce generation, including the shortage of sector-based modern training facilities and required number of trainers.
Experts, however, do not seem to view the government's ambition as pragmatic. With the current rate of employment generation, where jobs are highly scarce for marginalised youths, it will be a difficult task for the government to create a whopping 30 million new jobs by 2030, they say. In this connection, one may like to know what research says on the prospect of employment generation at such a high level. An eminent think tank, the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) presented its research findings at a dialogue, "Role of Public Service Delivery in Ensuring Employment for the Marginalised Youth Community." Organised by CPD and Asia Foundation with the help of the Citizen's Platform for SDGs ---Bangladesh, the event highlighted the inadequacies that are very likely to deter any substantial headway in employment generation.
The CPD research findings revealed that youths, particularly those who do not enjoy the same privileges as the rest of society, are deprived of access to tertiary education and ICT training due to financial constraints. On the other hand, lack of access to employment opportunities and training facilities and the apparent absence of accountability and transparency in public service delivery affect the youth population in securing jobs.
The need for targeted measures for the marginalised youths focusing on effective, transparent and accountable public service delivery is thus crucially needed, while the government should review its action plans as part of implementing SDGs with specific targets.
Speakers at the event particularly mentioned the prevailing mismatch between the availability of proper training and market needs, not only in the private sector but also in the government sector. Removing this mismatch is thus a dire necessity. Clearly, here the focus has to be in having a clear idea about what is being taught or trained and what are the needs of job market. In fact, this should have been the core thinking in employment generation, but so far, we are yet to see any targeted move in that direction. There is no alternative to skill-specific jobs, and for that the government can reorganise and create demands for skill-specific jobs.