Joblessness: A socio-economic disincentive for the nation  

Shihab Sarkar   | Published: May 06, 2019 22:10:26

Unemployment is one of the most miserable states an able-bodied youth passes through in his life. The insidious attacks of void and the sufferings increase manifold in the educated young people, especially those who have completed their higher studies. A recent study carried out by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) has come up with some findings related to employment of university graduates. As the think tank has found, the unemployment rate among the university graduates at present is 38.6 per cent. The finding, apparently, is nothing extraordinary. But the study has taken an in-depth look at the unemployment problem, and elaborated on the different allied aspects of the unemployment scenario covering the country's university graduates.

This unique field of unemployment is different from the others. Normally in Bangladesh society, a young man or woman graduating from a university is viewed as one all set to land a job. This was the common scenario even a couple of decades ago. But it has kept changing in the following years. University graduates, from both public and private institutions, idling around for years in a row, or desperately searching for jobs, are still there. But faint signs of opportunities of employment have also begun popping up.

BIDS has interviewed 1,574 students for the survey 'Tracer Study of Graduates of Universities in Bangladesh'. Students completing university education in 2015-16 academic year, were traced out. They had been selected randomly.  In spite of the more or less known picture, the study has identified a few areas. These are filled with some old deficiencies and drawbacks. But they can still be coped with, given some short- and long-term remedies in place. At one point of the study it is observed that the graduates are not getting the jobs as per their preferences. Most of the graduates coming from government universities normally want to enter the Bangladesh Civil Services (BCS). Reasons are clear: a long stint in the different cadre-based central superior services provides apparently endless career-building opportunities.  But final and successful entry into this service requires a long period of time, and the ability to persevere. Compared to them, students passing out of the private universities show the faster capability of getting employed in various jobs. Thanks to their time-befitting syllabuses and unwavering focus on studies, their job market emerges as being much wider. As for example, the multi-national companies (MNCs) prefer private university students to those from the public universities. On the other hand, the public university graduates dwarf the students from private university students in availing government jobs. The students of engineering and technical subjects in general face new types of hurdles. In getting a satisfactory job, they invariably face a mismatch between their educational qualification and the expectations and demand on the part of the employers. According to experts, the problem lies with our curricula originally formulated in the pre-digital times. As a corollary, students passing out from engineering and technical institutions cannot meet the job requirements being created to suit the rapid advancement of the technological world. Many youths self-taught in information and communications technology (ICT) are found in the large cities including the capital. But they have not equipped themselves in accordance with academic disciplines.

There are notable exceptions. As the BIDS study observes, youth employability varies according to the type of universities a student attends. It has found nearly 44 per cent students coming out of private universities find themselves employed. The rate is noticeably higher than the figure at public universities. The world is changing by the day, so are the range and scope of the jobs. Perhaps to prove this phenomenon of the modern times, scores of youths have proved their genius in different areas of self-employment, especially that of ICT. The flipside is owing to their lack of recognition by formal institutions they lag behind their contemporaries in the job market. A few of them, however, can manage to overcome these hurdles thanks to their indomitability. The number of these self-taught youths is few and far between.

With freelancing being a buzzword among today's educated youths, many upon being unsuccessful in procuring a tolerably decent employment these days prefer one-person office to the rigours in force at formal offices. Earning a decent amount of money by being engaged in software-related professions has already become a rewarding job for many brilliant youths. But as a full-time profession it demands hard labour. Moreover, one needs to continually keep abreast of the developments in the commercial field of ICT.

Despite the handsome remuneration coming from freelancing or self-run business ventures, extreme mental pressure and occasional uncertainties dissuade most of the educated youths from picking self-employment. Many of them finally feel driven by the urge to go for searching conventional jobs. Employments at least assure one of salaries, no matter if they are generous or humble, at the end of a month. Government or private firm employees enjoy weekly holiday(s), yearly leaves and financial incentives. Perhaps due to this, only 5.77 per cent of the surveyed graduates go for self-employment. It's also a positive sign that more than 50pc of the self-employed youths want to be entrepreneurs and remain in the heart of business.

Compared to many developing countries, the unemployment rate has not spiralled out of control here. But policymakers ought not to remain focused on educated urban youths only. A grim aspect of the job situation is there are thousands of unemployed youths across the country. They have not attended universities. But they have completed their college education. They also deserve due focus.



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