Despite growing economy and stable political situation, about 74.5 per cent of the youth, three in every four young people to be precise, are concerned and anxious about their career due to poor education quality and lack of future employment in the country, reveals a Prothom Alo study this year.
Prothom Alo conducted the previous survey two years ago in 2017,when the rate was 63.1.
Bangladesh, being one of the fastest growing economies, has one-third youth of its total population. These large numbers are in fix about their future when the young people in the other parts of the world are now seeing a dynamic change in their lives.
These youths are not only worried about the career plans, but face trouble in coping with their families as well. As many as 72.2 per cent youth are worried about adjusting with their families in the country.
Many such youths are now willing to go abroad for higher studies and want to return to the country after completing their studies. For that they want a favourable work environment within the country. However, about 66 per cent of the young people are concerned about being prepared from all aspects of life for the future.
The latest survey shows the concern of youth about the country, life and family remained almost the same while the concern over growing militancy has decreased a bit.
The survey was conducted among 1200 young people. One of the important aspects of this survey is, it has been conducted by both qualitative and quantitative methods. In-depth analytical interviews were carried out with 20 people on the results of the survey. Of them, 6 are experts,7 are men and 7are women.
Relations with the economy
The gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the country in 2017-18 fiscal was7.86 percent while it was 8.15 per cent in 2018-19 fiscal. The young people could not rely on future employment, even with an average growth rate of 8 percent in these two financial years. The survey found a similar trend in the concerns of the entrepreneurs and economists with the concerns of young people as the country’s employment is not increasing at the similar rate. Economists named it a jobless growth economy.
Theoretically there is a positive correlation between economic growth and the number of working people. However, whether a country can take demographic advantage depends on the functioning of its social, economic and political institutions. Many countries, South Korea and Ireland to name a few, along with large investments in the education sector take demographic advantage by attracting foreign investment and through development of local industries. Again, there are other countries which have failed to take advantage of this.
According to the Commonwealth’s global youth development index, Bangladesh has become one of the worse countries with larger young population to fulfil the five indicators- education, health and well-being, employment and opportunities, participation in politics and civic participation.
The Prothom Alo survey also shows that the youth of the country are most concerned with the quality of education. They feel the education system of the country is not compatible with the employment sector. At the same time, the youth of the country are not interested in politics, especially direct participation. The young people, however, have shown their interest in social movement.
It is seen in the survey that the concern of the youth of all classes, occupations, ages and regions is almost the same. However, crimes such as rape and harassment created more concerns for girls than boys while the boys are more concerned about future employment than girls.
According to this year survey, 64.3 percent of young people are concerned about personal safety. In 2017, 56.4 percent of the youth were concerned about personal security. Young people are worried about their own safety as crime levels rise in the country. Some have identified the police as the reason of fear.
Fourth industrial revolution
In the interview segment of the survey, the experts emphasised on the impact of the fourth industrial revolution in the country and Bangladesh’s preparation regarding that. They apprehend that many young working people may lose jobs due to the impact while new employment opportunity may face obstacles. E-commerce sector may fall while many expatriates may lose their jobs due to layoff and use of robots as workforce. Bangladesh has to be ready for that.
Challenge for the young
The experts were asked about the major challenges are for the youth at the time. They mentioned of a few challenges such as lack of skills, values and tolerance which are very necessary to survive in 21st century. Apart from poor education quality there is shortage of new employment opportunities which is one of the most encountered challenge for the youths.
The experts, however, gave eight suggestions to overcome the situations These are - studying with more concentration and setting goals for future, maintaining physical fitness, preparing for the changing world, achieving skills for employment market, keeping away from politics, drugs and social media, keeping up self-respect and self-dignity, thinking about the country and family and developing reading habits.
What the youths want
A number youth who were the part of the survey demanded quality education from the government, especially in the rural areas. There are other demands such as establishing government universities in every region of the country, keeping the educational institutions free of politics, increasing allocation for education and research, reducing study pressure, making technical education compulsory in all fields, providing free technical education, and make easy access to capital for entrepreneurship, establishment of new industrial sectors for employment generation, training, recruitment to stop nepotism, drug control, raising awareness to stop child marriage, prohibiting the use of mobile phones by children under 16 years and providing competitive salaries to stop the brain-drain.
*This piece, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat