Educated, yet unemployed


Innumerable letters have poured into Prothom Alo from frustrated young persons who have passed the Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) exams. “I passed the 36th BCS exam,” writes one such youth, “but after two and a half years, it is frustrating to be enlisted in the non-cadre category. The ministries neglect to forward the cadre-wise vacancy lists to the Public Service Commission.”

Many more letters have been sent in by desperate youth appealing to the government regarding their employment.

The 37th BCS exam is nearing completion. A total of 346,532 appeared in the 38th BCS preliminary exam held on 29 December while 243,576 took the 37th BCS exam.

The number of job seekers is on a steady rise. In the 36th BCS, a total of 5231 passed the final test while only 2323 among them were recommended for various cadres. Like Moshidul, there are 3,308 still waiting.

Ismat Ara Sadique, state minister for public administration, told the parliament on 20 November that there were 359,261 vacancies in the various government offices, ministries and directorates.

On one hand, there are vacancies while, on the other hand, those who passed the BCS exams remain unemployed.

The rate of unemployment in a country can be determined from the ratio between the number of applications and the number of vacancies in a recruitment test.

The increase in the number of applicants by one hundred thousand within a single year reveals the dire state of the employment sector.

Less than one-third of the applicants are being employed. The rest either remain jobless or appear to be unemployed.

Some take up jobs below their qualifications and potential. This can be humiliating. Every year around two million youth enter the job market.

When 70 persons apply for a BCS post, then one can only imagine the situation in other sectors.

Though the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) says the number of unemployed persons is about 2.6 million, the actual number is far greater.

The World Bank considers the actual number to be 20.2 million (14.20%) while ILO (International Labour Organisation) calculated it to be about 30 million in 2015. ILO also ranked Bangladesh 12th among the top 20 countries where unemployment was on a rise.

According to the ILO standard, a person not doing any work for at least one hour per week is unemployed. But, in Bangladesh this one hour wage is scarcely enough for food, let alone other amenities.

In line with the BBS report, the higher the education the lesser the opportunity for jobs in Bangladesh. It is easier to get a job if you are uneducated.

Only 2.20% of the uneducated population is jobless, while it is more than 9% among the higher educated who does not have a job.

An EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit) report published from the UK in 2014 says, about 47% graduates of Bangladesh are jobless while in India it is 33% and in Pakistan 28% along with Nepal 20%. Are not we producing the highest number of educated unemployment?

On the other hand, we are importing highly paid manpower to run factories, hospitals and other businesses overseas.

BBS says about 60 million 700 thousand people over the age of 15 years are financially productive. Among them 50 million 800 thousand are in different professions. The number of persons contributing to the family without any wage is about 10 million 11 hundred thousand.

In addition to that, there are 100 million 60 thousand day labourers without any job security.

Making it worse, for last few years there has not been any significant investment in the private sectors.

Government statistics show that the rate of unemployed youth is the highest in Bangladesh, at 10.40%. The percentage for women among them is 15%.

Among the women of employable age in Bangladesh, about 6.80% are unemployed while this is 3% among men. About 10.70% among those with SSC (Secondary School Certificate) degrees, and 6.20% with HSC (Higher Secondary School Certificate) degrees, are unemployed.

A business entrepreneur said, in a recent media interview, those with university degrees in recent times do not meet the job market requirements. He said, “We’re not getting skilled people. If recruited, they will have to be trained from scratch.”

Economists think the employment rate is lagging behind the GDP rate. Moreover, the most skilled section of the educated manpower are going overseas while the rest remaining at home are either of average calibre or lacking in specialised and technical skills.

As a consequence, a large number of manpower in the private sector is being recruited from India, Sri Lanka and other countries for management positions. A large chunk of our foreign exchange is being spent on them. Statistics show that every three to five billion dollars is spent on foreign manpower here.

According to a report of Prothom Alo, over 55% of the youth with university degrees, did not get any job within 6 months to 2 years of passing out. Among them 38.5% remained jobless for at least 6 months.

Of those with HSC degrees, 47% remained unemployed for up to 2 years while 45% among them remained jobless for 6 months.

About half of the total those with SSC degrees, remained jobless for 6 months.

Every government introduces an education policy as soon as it assumes power, but none takes into cognizance the specific kind of education required at home and abroad. New departments are being opened at the universities, with little consideration to their relevance.

 *Sohrab Hassan is a poet and journalist and can be contacted at [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>. This piece originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Nusrat Nowrin.