Creating more employment

Employment creation needs to be a very important objective in every economy for the simple reasons that unemployed persons pose a burden at every level in society. First of all, they are burdens on their families. Unemployed ones eligible to work and not finding work are a source of agony for their families. Family resources are drained on the maintenance of unemployed persons.
In the overall economic sense, unemployed people are liabilities for the economy because they hardly produce but largely consume. People who do jobs usually produce something or discharge a service and obtain an income in return for their economic activities. Thus, employed individuals both give something to the economy and take from it whereas the unemployed ones mainly take from the economy without providing substantially to it. They are like parasites living off the wealth and income that others produce. Thus, both unemployment or its milder form, underemployment, meaning less than optimum engagement in work, are both highly undesirable for the economy and society.
According to official statistics , some 38 per cent of the members of the workforce in Bangladesh are unemployed or underemployed. Thus, the formidable nature of the problem for Bangladesh needs no explanation. It should be obvious to all. Every government from now on must put the greatest emphasis on maximising employment opportunities.
Bangladesh has a huge population of over 160 million people and despite the efforts at population control, this population is projected to grow notably bigger than its present size in the near future. A characteristic of the Bangladesh population is the preponderant number of young people in it. Nearly one third of the population, at present, are below the age of fifteen. But these young ones, together with the present borderline population who are about to become eligible for the job market in the near future, could mean that some 50 million young Bangladeshis would be looking for employment by the year 2025.
This is indeed a disturbing picture given the present picture of new employment creation in the country. The present average rate of annual economic growth– at nearly 7 per cent –is not enough to create jobs on the scale which is needed. Therefore, the unemployment situation may really turn very serious if plans and programmes are not immediately adopted and implemented to cope with the much greater employment needs to arise even in the short term.
The home economy may not expand sufficiently and proportionately to provide jobs to the rising number of unemployed people. It serves the country’s purpose best if a much greater number of people can be sent out with jobs. In that case, the benefits can be multiple. The pressure of the unemployed ones for jobs eases, foreign currencies are remitted in support of the foreign currency reserve and the country is also spared the parasitic existence of people without jobs . Considering these factors, all governments from now on should pursue more energetic policies to provide training at publicly run training centres where young persons can get training for jobs which have good demand abroad. The returns in remittances from skilled labour are substantially higher than unskilled ones. Thus, government’s investment in skill training makes sense.
Besides, government should persuade financial institutions to extend loans on easy terms and conditions to overseas job seekers which they would be able to pay back on taking up employment abroad. Furthermore, government should intervene to ensure that private manpower agents work with integrity and efficiency so that job seekers are not cheated. All of these steps and more are likely to much increase the prospects of gainful foreign employment by a greater number of Bangladeshis.
In order to speed up employment locally, the government will need to give greater attention to making available training, advisory service, capital support and assistance to the country’s huge unemployed youth at the grassroots level. With such training and assistance, many self employment projects can be opened up for youth in the dairies and livestock sector, poultry breeding, growing of novel agricultural products for export, etc.
Government’s small size and reduced role are desired everywhere. In the era of market economy and free enterprise, the government’s role has conceptually shrunk. Nonetheless, there are areas where the government is duly expected to play a bigger role or predominant role to hasten productivity and economic growth. This is the area of skill development to create a wide range of skills in the country’s workforce to enhance employment prospects, either institutional or self employment, or to improve production capacities. Both in turn can work as powerful catalysts for economic growth.
Government’s ample spending for skill development is all the more necessary because private sectors may prefer not to invest in this area out of a consideration of low profits. The other very important consideration of high costs of skill training under the private sector is also likely to exclude most seekers of such training on the ground of their inability to pay for the training. Thus, government’s role as a skill trainer assumes great importance in a country like Bangladesh. Bangladesh appears to have scored some modest gains as shown in the last human development report on South Asia . But the rate of progress seems below what is desired or necessary that creates the imperative for greater skill training of the workforce under governmental auspices.
The expansion of skill training activities may be looked upon as gainful activities by the government if these are conducted with some vision. For instance, government may conduct market survey of the sort of skills that have growing domestic demand and in the international labour market. Accordingly, it can set up its training establishments and programmes and no doubt this will call for some investments on the part of the government. But the investment will promote economic growth and higher productivity.