The crowds that thronged the job fair on Thursday at the Sheikh Hasina Software Technology Park in Jessore, was ample indication of the unemployment crisis in Bangladesh. This was not a routine job fair. It featured 31 IT companies and had been arranged for those with IT skills and experience.
According to Prothom Alo, the organisers had expected around 300 job seekers at the fair. It had been said that the CVs of the applicants would be scrutinised and they would be selected directly for various posts. However, over 10,000 job applicants turned up at the event and things went out of control. The police even had to come in to restore order. The applicants finally had to drop their CVs in specified boxes.
The job aspirants came not only from Jessore, but from nearby districts too. It was a glaring reminder of the number of unemployed educated persons in the country. While inaugurating the fair, ICT state minister Zunaid Ahmed said that over the next three years 300,000 young men and women would be trained in IT skills and by 2021 a total of 2 million would be given jobs.
According to a report of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the number of unemployed in Bangladesh stands at 2.6 million. In actuality, it is far more. A report of the Economist Intelligent Unit a few years ago stated that Bangladesh had the highest rate of educated unemployed persons. Things have hardly improved. Every year around 2 million persons enter the job market, but less than one third of them find jobs.
The country has progressed considerably. Per capita income and life expectancy have both increased. But investment in creating employment opportunities has been inadequate. The ICT state minister said that 2 million young persons will be given jobs by 2021, but it must also be seen how many young people will be entering the job market then.
In the meantime, our labour market abroad is shrinking. In the circumstances, employment must be given first priority in the development strategy and the government must focus on implementing this. If the unemployed youth cannot be given jobs, all development plans will fall flat on the face.