The whole world is devastated by the Corona epidemic that started from Wuhan, China last December. Around One billion people are losing their jobs worldwide due to lack of employment.
According to the United Nations, the number of unemployed youth aged between 15 to 24 has almost tripled. According to the 'Bangladesh Manpower Survey, 2017' the number of unemployed in the country is about 4.2 percent. Of these, 10.2 percent are youth aged between 15 to 29.
This number has greatly increased as a result of the Corona epidemic. According to a study operated by the Access to Information (a2i) project, about 25 million people in the country have already become unemployed as a result of the corona.
By 2021, this number will be around 33 million. This high rate of unemployment during the global economic downturn will also have a negative impact on the Gross Domestic Product's(GDP) growth rate of the country.
Most of the companies are reducing their staffs. In both the formal and informal sectors, the impact is much on the relatively unskilled workers. Many are going back to the villages after losing their jobs. This Corona epidemic has been accelerating plans to increase production with automated machines instead of manual devices, which has been planned over the past few decades.
In this 'New Normal' reality, companies are now giving more importance to the technically skilled workers. The practice of 'Work from Home' has started in various companies. As a result, employment opportunities have been created for technologically skilled Youth in the worlds renowned companies like Google, Microsoft etc.
In the post-Corona world, huge employment opportunities are being created in several sectors including Healthcare, E-commerce, Pharmaceuticals, Agro-food, ICT etc. Therefore, in the next uncertain future, we need to make our youth interested in acquiring contemporary skills rather developing them as experts in special subjects.
But the main obstacle in this case is the existing Colonial Education System that has been in place in our country for centuries. Students are getting nominal practical education from Primary level to Higher education level. Although separate education board had been formed for technical education, students are failing to acquire the required skills due to various reasons including shortage of necessary equipment, incompetence of teachers etc.
The number of institutions for technical education is also insufficient. As a result, young people are succeeding in obtaining tertiary level certificates but failing to acquire the minimum skills required for the workplaces. World Bank also identified technical and technological incompetence as the main reasons behind high unemployment rate among Bangladeshi youth in a report published back in 2018.
Now we need to rethink about our education, skills and employment for the future. In order to increase the efficiency and financial capacity of the nation, it is necessary to spread quality technical education. We need to Create a 'Skill Map' of global and local standards and identify the shortages as per the demand. To keep pace with the new world, we need to change the existing memorization-based curriculum and focus on skill-based practical and technical education instead.
Skill-based courses need to be introduced in Higher education and ensure necessary training for the teachers. Special importance should be given to the rural economy of the country. Special attention should be paid to the employment of skilled workers who have returned to the villages due to Corona pandemic.
The use of advanced technology in agriculture should be increased and necessary training should be provided. Loan arrangements need to be made on easy terms for young entrepreneurs. Training needs to be arranged for women workers working in the informal sector. Above all, a specific action plan needs to be adopted for the implementation of the 'National Skill Development Policy, 2011'.
This global crisis is changing the whole world. We also need to change. If we do not ensure a work-oriented education system in the reality of the new world, the young generation of the country will fall behind and the entire nation will fall.
Writer: Anik Ahmed, a student of Department of Law, University of Rajshahi
BDST: 1830 HRS, JULY 21, 2020