'Hardly any allocation for improving youth skills'

Staff Correspondent | Update:

Participants of a roundtable on ‘Youth budget: Development, aspirations and responsibilities for the youth', organised by Prothom Alo at its Karwan Bazar office, pose for a photograph on Thursday. Photo: Prothom AloDespite official emphasis on skills development, there is hardly any budgetary allocation for improving skills of the youth for making them qualified for local and overseas jobs, a Prothom Alo roundtable was told Thursday.

It observed, although one-third of the country's population is now youth, they are not engaged in the budget making process.

Stakeholders said allocation for the youth in the national budget is inadequate -- a meager 0.27 per cent of the total outlay -- but due to lack of proper policy, coordination and monitoring, that too remains unutilised every year.

They regretted there is acute employment crisis whereas industries suffer for shortage of skilled manpower.

The observations came at the roundtable on ‘Youth budget: Development, aspirations and responsibilities for the youth', organised by Prothom Alo at its Karwan Bazar office in Dhaka in association with Oxfam Bangladesh.

Acknowledging the importance of bringing the youth to the mainstream development process, planning minister MA Mannan said the government would increase allocations for the youth in the next budget.

"Problems relating to skills and employment opportunities for the youth have already been identified. Initiatives have also been taken to address them," he added.

Stakeholders said the youth are eager to work and join in the local and international workforce, but they cannot do so for lack of international certification.

Countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are taking over overseas jobs once won by Bangladesh, they added.

The Bangladeshi youth, both at the grassroots and national levels, do not know about the budgetary allocations.

Despite formulation of national skills development policy, there is lack of coordination among the ministries in implementing such policies, the participants said.

"We have lost place in the international job market whereas foreigners earn $6 billion, among which India earns $4 billion, per year from the country," deputy director of youth development department, Moazzem Hossain said.

He pointed out that nothing from a Tk 2 billion human resource development fund was spent though the finance ministry had allocated it.

The official mentioned that Bangladesh is sending abroad the women only as house maids, but the overseas job market should be diversified for them.

"Many international organisations are providing training for nurses here, but only the senior nurses are being enlisted although we need 450,000 more nurses," said Ulfat Jahan Moon, director at Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Monjur Rashid of Oxfam said, "The budget should include creating opportunities for the ethnic minority people with special focus to their individual culture and language."

Abdullah Al Islam Jakob, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on youth and sports ministery,  Md Faruque Hossain, executive chairman of National Skills Development Authority, Md Abu Suman, public finance expert, Munir Hossain, programme anaylist, Md Khalid Hussain, manager of economic justice and resilience at Oxfam spoke at the roundtable moderated by Prothom Alo associate editor Abdul Quayum.

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