Apr 22 2021
A staggering 74 percent of Bangladeshi youth are not taking any initiative to upskill themselves for post-COVID-19 job market challenges, according to a survey.
Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC), with support from Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) of the UK Government, released the findings at a webinar on Saturday.
The study’s goal was to assess the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic on Bangladeshi youth, BYLC said in a press release issued on Sunday.
When COVID-19 hit Bangladesh, the government was prompt in prioritising remote learning strategies to keep education uninterrupted, yet students’ learning was affected by regional and institution-wise disparity in digital readiness, it said.
According to the study, although COVID-19 has given rise to the demand for a whole new set of skills, young people are yet to recognise the importance of acquiring such skills.
Young entrepreneurs with limited cash runway struggled to stay operational during the pandemic.
Besides, 62 percent of the surveyed young entrepreneurs reported that they had to shut down their businesses temporarily or permanently due to the virus outbreak. In the absence of low-cost funding, digital and physical infrastructure, and mentorship support, young entrepreneurs foresee the business landscape of the country as bleak for them.
As the youth were trying to disentangle the challenges posed by COVID-19 in their education, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities, their mental and emotional well-being suffered.
Sixty-one percent of the surveyed youth mentioned experiencing mental stress in this situation, but only 20 percent of them took expert advice. Help-seeking behaviour was lower in women than that of men mainly due to social taboos and family restrictions.
Speaking at the webinar as the chief guest, Deputy Education Minister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury stressed on the importance of vocational training for youth to address the gaps in skills and employment opportunities.
“It is essential for us to prioritise technical and vocational education, or else we will not be able to reap the benefits of demographic dividend,” he said.
The survey was conducted from April to September and 1,464 youth, aged between 18 and 35, across eight divisions of Bangladesh took part.
The respondents included students, fresh graduates, young professionals, and young entrepreneurs.
Among the students, there was representation from public universities, private universities, colleges under National University, Bangla and English medium schools.
Educators and industry experts were also consulted to suggest ways forward to address the challenges pertaining to employment, youth’s experience of online education, entrepreneurial opportunities, and mental well-being during and after the pandemic.
The webinar was moderated by Ejaj Ahmed, President and Founder of BYLC.
Special guests Shaheen Anam, Executive Director, MJF, and Tina F.Jabeen, Managing Director and CEO, Startup Bangladesh Limited, also spoke at the webinar.