Job market crash scares job seekers

Job market crash scares job seekers

Coronavirus has brought the job market to a standstill. Fresh appointments have come to a halt in almost all government and private organisations. The BCS (Bangladesh Civil Service) exam has also been suspended.

Concerned persons say that because of the impact of coronavirus, employment may not return to normal even after the pandemic abates. However, new vistas of employment will open up for youth equipped with the required skills, human resource experts say.

The preliminary exam for the 41st BCS exam was scheduled for April this year and 475,000 candidates applied. In the meantime, the results of the 40th BCS exam have been suspended. The final results of the 38th BCS are suspended. However, everyone of the special 39th BCS batch has been appointed.

Chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC) Mohammad Sadiq, speaking to Prothom Alo, said that the BCS results and exams have been held up due to coronavirus. It had been planned to hold this exam after the HSC (Higher Secondary Certificate) exams, but now even the HSC exams are uncertain. There are many candidates for the 41st BCS. We will just have to wait for the situation to improve, he said.

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The banking sector is one of the larger employers and exams in this sector are held up too. No notices have been published for any new appointments. Janata Bank had to postpone an oral exam for the appointment of officers. A preliminary exam has been suspended too.

General manager of Bangladesh Bank, Arif Hossain, told Prothom Alo, an oral exam of Janata Bank has been postponed due to coronavirus. Most of the candidates had taken the exam, but it could not be completed. A preliminary exam of the same bank was also suspended at the last minute. Over 100,000 candidates had applied for the 633 vacant posts.

Many other job examinations have been held up. These include exams for the post of scientific officer and accounts officer at the Bangladesh National Scientific and Technical Documentation Centre (BANSDOC) which were scheduled for 20 March. There were 50,000 candidates for 35 posts.

The Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry suspended a written exam scheduled on the same day for the appointment of third and fourth class employees. Other organisations which have suspended their exams for appointments to various posts, include the Cotton Development Board, the Roads and Highways Department, the Food Directorate and the Anti-Corruption Commission.

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No new job advertisements

Scanning through the media web portals for jobs, it was noted that there were no significant government job ads over the past three months. The application dates for officer posts in five banks have even been extended by 10 days.

Private sector job advertisements have decreased too. Pharmaceutical companies advertise the most in the media for jobs. However, over the past few months there have hardly been more than a handful of such ads.

Robi Axiata’s chief human resources officer, Faisal Imtiaz Khan, said in the post-corona times, there would be new sectors arising, like gaming, digital products, gig economy, mental health, insurance, alternative energy, online coaching centres, data science, and more.

Fahim Mashrur, chief executive of one of the major job web portals in the country, Bdjobs, told Prothom Alo, “Our web portal received about 80 percent less job ads in April and May. Many companies have held up appointments.”

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently published a report on the job market. It said that the job market in Bangladesh had crashed due to coronavirus. Job advertisements had fallen drastically. These had fallen by 35 percent in March compared to the corresponding period of last year. In April it fell by 87 percent. The manufacturing industry had 92 percent less job advertisements. In the health sector this had fallen by 81 percent. The IT sector is seen as the future, but in this sector job ads fell by 82 percent. Job ads had fallen by 64 percent in the NGO sector.

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Frustration on the rise

Young persons seeking employment are frustrated at this state of affairs.

Tasnuva Akhter recently passed out from Jagannath University. On 10 May she crossed the age limit to apply for government service. She had planned to apply to all government job ads that would appear, but she was frustrated as no such ads were published. Many others too are crossing the age limit to apply for government service.

State minister for public administration Farhad Hossain told Prothom Alo that he would discuss the issue about those who couldn’t apply in time because of the pandemic.

Skill development

Human resource experts advise the youth to use this time to develop their skills. Robi Axiata Ltd’s chief human resources officer, Faisal Imtiaz Khan, said that this is the time for the young job aspirants to prepare themselves for interviews. He said in the post-corona times, there would be new sectors arising, like gaming, digital products, gig economy, mental health, insurance, alternative energy, online coaching centres, data science, and much more. Rather than looking for jobs, many can prepare themselves as entrepreneurs, he suggested.

Former cabinet secretary Ali Imam, speaking to Prothom Alo, said, the government has provided stimulus packages to the private and agricultural sectors. The private companies that have received stimulus packages should use these funds in a proper and appropriate manner. If the stimulus funds are properly utilised, the companies will benefit and the negative impact on employment will be lessened. The government should locate more companies and entrepreneurs who have been hit hard and revive them with stimulus packages, he said, adding that this would create more fields of employment.

This report has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir