Build skills of the youth for faster economic recovery: experts | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 02, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:50 AM, November 02, 2020

Build skills of the youth for faster economic recovery: experts

Almost 80 per cent of all households are facing significantly reduced income amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which subsequently affects education, particularly of young females, according to a recent study.

These findings were released during a webinar styled, 'Covid-19 and Bangladesh: A Youth Agenda for Recovery', organised by the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh yesterday.

Tamara-E-Tabassum, programme associate of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), presented the findings of the online survey at the event.

The survey was conducted from October 18, 2020 to October 27, 2020 with the participation of 1,163 youths.

According to the study, only 12 out of all the respondents reported that their income increased during the pandemic.

Around 8 per cent of the female respondents had abandoned their studies due to marriage while 15 per cent expressed that online education is not adequate for them.

Almost two-thirds of the respondents reported that they were disheartened about the future scope for earning.

Some 53 per cent of youths in urban cities are disheartened by their potential earnings while the figure is 67 per cent for youths in rural areas.

Meanwhile, only 10 per cent of the younger population are hopeful about their future and career.

Around 58.3 per cent of the respondents informed that they are not involved in any online education or training programmes.

Almost 21 per cent said they were looking for jobs and had re-engaged in online education or training.

Besides, about 50 per cent informed that they do not have the appropriate equipment, such as smartphones or computers, which is a major concern.

Regarding government support, the survey revealed that only 7.5 per cent received support while almost 80 per cent did not get any aid from the government amid the pandemic.

However, the youth demanded Tk 5,000 per month as unemployment benefit from the government. 

At the programme, Shameem Haider Patwary, a lawmaker and member of the standing committee on the ministry of law, justice and parliamentary affairs, differed this demand.

However, he said the youth might be given Tk 5,000 per month as allowance if they receive training in different trades for skill development.

He also stressed on the need to allocate Tk 50,000 crore in the budget for skills development of the youth.

"We need youth friendly initiatives at this moment to address the problems faced by young people due to the Covid-19 fallout," Patwary said.

The government should take the initiative in collaboration with the private sector to build up a skilled workforce, he added.

Keya Akhter, owner of the Care Beauty Parlour in Savar, said her business has fallen on hard times due to the ongoing crisis.

She also said she had no idea about how to avail loans from the government's stimulus packages.

"If I get a loan, then my business will run smoothly," she added.

Md Hasan Ali, president of the Bangladesh Textile and Garment Workers League (BTGWL), alleged that 85 per cent of the garment sector's workforce are youths but they do not get any proper skill training.

Besides, 3 lakh employees of garment industries were sacked due to job cuts amid the Covid-19 fallout, he said.

The BTGWL president also said there is no initiative to develop the skills of garment workers even though they heavily contribute to the economy. 

"So, the government should take the initiative to develop the skills of these garment workers," Ali added.

Riaj Uddin Badsha, a youth skills development programme graduate of UCEP Bangladesh, said technical education is practical since it guarantees an income most of the time.

On the other hand, ICT based technical education may not always be so fruitful, he said.

Talha Rahman, technical officer of ADD International, recommended the introduction of disability friendly education as children with disability generally lag behind other students in the country.

The corporate sector should come forward in this regard and create opportunities for students with disabilities, Rahman said.

Manjuni Chakma, project officer of Kapaeeng Foundation, said most economic activities were halted for a while due to the ongoing pandemic.

Most students of indigenous communities had no opportunity to access the internet due to a lack of knowledge on ICT and technology-based services.

And so, Chakma urged the government to create more opportunities for these students.

Nupur Rani, youth representative from the Dalit community, pointed out that there is no opportunity for Dalit students.

Anika Bushra, central youth volunteer of the Y-moves project of YES BD, said some new opportunities have created though.

Everybody wants to be involved in income generating activities, she said.

Sanjana Islam, a member of Action Aid Bangladesh, said the opportunity to conduct economic activities is declining in rural areas compared to their urban counterparts due to the Covid-19 fallout.

She urged the authorities concerned to create the scope for young people to raise their voices and share their problems.

Avra Chakrabarty, executive director of Dhrubotara Youth Development Foundation (DYDF), said if a policy is not sufficient, it should not be implemented.

According to Chakrabarty, the government formulated a youth policy four years ago but there has been no move to implement it till date.

He also urged for youth financing to help create start-ups.

Debapriya Bhattacharya, convenor of the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh, said youths should be considered separately instead of a united youth community for in-depth realisation of their problems.

He also suggested to take an initiative to bring the youth under an incentive package in the next budget.

Bhattacharya alleged that the problems faced by the youth are not realised properly.

Prof Mustafizur Rahman, a distinguished fellow of the CPD, said there is a wide gap in skills among the youth in rural and urban areas.

"This gap should be addressed to resolve the youth problems," he said.

Moderated by Towfiqul Islam Khan, senior research fellow of the CPD, the webinar was addressed, among others, by Mahmud Hasan, project officer for the governance cluster of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Rani Chowdhury, youth representative from the third gender community. 


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