The Centre for Development and Employment Research, a newly-established local think tank, at a discussion on Monday said the number of unemployed people in the country might be higher than the government’s data that mentioned 4 per cent of the population as jobless.
The CDER and the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies organised the discussion at the BIDS office in Dhaka on the Employment and Labour Market Watch 2017.
BIDS director general KA Toufique chaired the discussion where CDER executive chairperson Rushidan Islam Rahman and CDER senior visiting fellow Rizwanul Islam presented separate papers on the issue.
Centre for Policy Dialogue distinguished fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya, CPD executive director Mustafizur Rahman, World Bank’s lead economist for Dhaka Zahid Hussain and Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury also spoke at the discussion, among others.
Rizwanul in his paper said, ‘The rate of unemployment is around 10 per cent in the eurozone and 4 per cent in the USA. In that context, we should be very happy about the 4 per cent unemployment rate in last couple of years but to me there might have some problem with that data.’
In Bangladesh, people who work for only one hour in a week are not treated as unemployed, he said.
Besides, even job-seekers are not treated as unemployed, Rizwanul said.
‘That’s why the unemployment rate in Bangladesh is around 4 per cent,’ he said.
In the developed countries, open unemployment can be a good indicator of the performance of the labour market, but in the developing countries like Bangladesh, where there is no unemployment benefit, people (especially the poorer ones) can hardly afford to remain unemployed, the CDER senior visiting fellow said.
So, alternative indicators are needed for Bangladesh to understand its labour market, he added.
Rushidan in her paper said, ‘Only GDP growth is not enough in generating sufficient employment for a country where a large number people are entering the job market every year.’
She suggested providing incentives for the achievement by small and medium enterprises as a short-run step, which would ultimately increase the number of enterprises and ultimately would result in an increased number of jobs.
Speaking on the occasion, Mustafizur said, ‘As the contribution of services to the global trade may exceed 50 per cent by 2040, there should be an integrated effort to make our workforce prepared for such filed, although the initiative should have been taken earlier.’
Although there are a number of government entities working to create skilled manpower, trainings given by the entities are not aligned with the country’s internal and external demand, he said.
Pointing out the high unemployed rate of educated people, Debapriya said, ‘It’s terrible that 40 per cent of the youth who are educated are not anywhere in the job.’
Zahid Hussain said, ‘A significant number of people remain unemployed as the education sector are not preparing suitable workforce.’
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