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Job creation with decent pay a must for demographic dividend

News Published: Thursday, Jun 18, 2015

The Financial Express.jpg

Posted : 18 Jun, 2015 00:00:00


Job creation with decent pay a must for demographic dividend

Economists, researchers, academics say

FE Report

Photo: Former adviser to caretaker government Dr Akbar Ali Khan speaking

Former adviser to caretaker government Dr Akbar Ali Khan speaking as the chief guest at the programme of unveiling the cover of a book titled 'Unnayan Bhabnay Kormo Sangsthan o Shrom Bazar' written by Rizwanul Islam at the PRI conference room in the city on Wednesday. — FE Photo

Economists, researchers, rights activists and academics underlined Wednesday the need for creating adequate job opportunities with decent wages to reap advantage of the country's existing higher rate of demographic dividend.

They suggested diversification of Bangladesh's industrial base, mainstreaming a large number of informal labour force, adaptation of smart agricultural practices, special focus on female participation in labour and providing productive technical and general education to facilitate creation of more employments.

The observations came at a book-launching ceremony jointly organised by Policy Research Institute (PRI) and The University Press Limited (UPL) at the PRI Conference Room in the capital. Former caretaker government adviser Dr Akbar Ali Khan was chief guest.

Titled "Unnayan Bhabonay Kormosongsthan O Sromobazar (Employment and Labour Market in Development Perspective)", the book has been authored by Dr Rizwanul Islam, former special adviser on employment, ILO, based in Geneva. 

Talking about his book, Dr Rizwanul Islam said the book has eleven chapters on various aspects of employment, poverty, contribution of labour market on economy, employment in informal sector, social safety nets on global perspective and challenges facing Bangladesh labour market.

Citing a BBS (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics) study, he said the rate of unemployment of labour force in Bangladesh was 4.5 per cent in 2010 while 8.3 per cent in the USA in 2012, 5.6 per cent in Germany and 7.9 per cent in Indonesia.

Such figures do not mean that Bangladesh is doing better than the USA, he said, adding that many of the country's workforce are getting wages much below theirs.

He further said some 50 per cent of the country's employed workforce get less than US$1.25 a day and 63 per cent of them are self-employed or unpaid family workers.

Dr Barkat-e-Khuda, Dhaka University's economics professor, said the first thing the country needs to do is ensure increased labour supply and the magnitude of this benefit will depend on the ability of the economy to absorb and productively employ the additional workers.

"If the country fails to manage increased jobs with decent wages, demographic dividend can turn into demographic nightmare," he told the meet.

Moderating the book launch, PRI Chairman Dr Zaidi Sattar said import-substitute sector cannot create enough jobs rather the export-oriented industries like RMG (readymade garment) for strengthening the labour market. "So, we need more diversification in export-oriented sector," he said.

He noted that growth comes from two areas: investment and employment. And special attentions is needed to increase the female workforce participation from the existing some 40 per cent to the level of 60-70 per cent, which will have a positive impact on the GDP (gross domestic product)   

Senior Research Fellow of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Dr Nazneen Ahmed said the country would require quality jobs with decent wage for inclusive economic growth that the nation now focuses.

"We also should apply or adopt smart agricultural practices to prevent the shift of young generation of farmers into other areas, including the risky migration for overseas jobs," she added.   

Speaking as chief guest, Dr Akbar Ali Khan termed the issue of employment most challenging for the economy. It is also recognised as a basic need for the citizens by the constitution, he said.

He also underscored the need for more research and writings on female labour situation, education-both technical and general-and migrant workers with global perspectives.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), demographic dividend means the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population's age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age share of the population (14 and younger, and 65 and older).

As per the latest population census, 33 per cent of Bangladesh population  now belong to age group 0-14 years, while 18.8 per cent to 15-24 years and 37.6 per cent to 25-54 years. It means that, after 15 years, most of the country's population will be in the workforce.    

PRI Executive Director Dr Ahsan H Mansur, ex-president of Bangladesh Employers' Federation Kamran T Rahman, Former Managing Director of PKSF Dr Quazi Mesbahuddin Ahmed, among others, also spoke at the function.