Youth Unemployment — A Challenge for Economic Growth
Economic growth will stagnate without inclusive participation in the economy. Unemployment is positively related to economic instability. Increased unemployment rate causes increased economic vulnerability in the country. Around 50 per cent people are youths in the total population of Bangladesh. But youths do not find adequate opportunities to get involved in the economy. Without youths, an economy cannot move forward. Economic growth can never be imagined without participation of youths.
In Bangladesh, youth unemployment is increasing day by day. According to ILO, unemployment covers people who are: out of work, want a job, have actively sought work in the previous four weeks, and are available to start work within the next fortnight; or out of work, and have accepted a job that they are waiting to start in the next fortnight.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) 2016-2017, the unemployment rate in Bangladesh is 4.2 per cent. According BBS, around 2.68 million youths are unemployed; among them, 1.36 million youths are between 15-24 years of age.
The number of unemployed youths is increasing in the country. In 2011, youth unemployment rate was 7.27 per cent. The youth unemployment rate increased to 11.37 per cent within five years in 2017. If the trend continues, the rate will become uncontrollable.
There are specific reasons for worsening of youth unemployment in Bangladesh. Dearth of job opportunities is the main reason for youth unemployment. Jobs are not created in the job market of the country in accordance with the supply of fresh graduates every year. Investment is the main source for creating jobs in the market. In Bangladesh, public and private investments do not take place commensurate with the demand of the economy. In the budget for 2018-2019 fiscal year, development budget is around Tk 1,796.69 billion and non-development budget is Tk 2,915.73 billion. Due to a sharp rise in the government’s operating expenditures, the development expenditures are not increasing proportionately. As a result, public investments are not keeping pace with the increasing demand for jobs in the market. Private investment rate is also quite low in Bangladesh, which is not adequate compared to the demand in the economy.
‘Education’ is another issue in the area of youth unemployment. There are two problems in education, which are related to increasing youth unemployment. These are: ‘education system’, and ‘lack of inclusive participation in education’. Education system of the country neither creates sufficient scientists, scholars and social scientists, nor does it groom qualified and skilled inputs (students) in line with market demand. The literacy rate of Bangladesh is 72.76 per cent, the rates for males and females being 75.62 per cent and 69.9 per cent respectively. But the participation of female students in higher education is low compared to male students. The education system of Bangladesh has failed to maintain inclusive participation in every stage of education. As a consequence, female students fall behind in the competition to get jobs, because they are less educated and less skillful compared to males. Therefore, the rate of unemployment among female youths is exacerbating.
The crucial problem of youth unemployment is lack of good governance. Good governance mirrors the rule of law. Good governance ensures transparency and accountability in a country. Bangladesh needs to establish good governance. Good governance curbs corruption. Corruption causes rise in the operational expenditure of the government. As a result, budgetary allocation in public investments is getting reduced because allocation for non-development expenses is increasing. Foreign investment in a country is also reduced due to corruption, according to IMF chief Christine Lagarde.
If the government wants to reduce the youth unemployment rate, it has to identify the problems first. Bangladesh plans to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs) within 2030. According SDGs goal 8(5) – ‘Promote Sustainable Economic Growth and Employment for All’ – a country has to achieve full employment and decent work for all men and women, including the youths and the people in vulnerable conditions. Therefore, if the government wants to achieve SDG-8 within the stipulated period, it has to focus on increasing youth participation in the economy by creating opportunities for the country’s youths.
The Financial Express, 08 August 2018, Bangladesh
Minhazur Rahman Rezvi